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“The failure of the 2019 Resolution on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean is a stain on the European Parliament. Tomorrow’s vote is a chance to rectify that.” ” – Barry Andrews MEP

Barry Andrews MEP has tabled a European Parliament resolution calling for EU-led Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean, due to be voted on July 13th.


A controversial vote in 2019 saw the European Parliament reject a proposal for an EU-led Search and Rescue mission by a margin of just 2 votes. The gradual withdrawal of the EU from the Mediterranean, with the conclusion of Operation Sophia in 2020, has had deadly consequences. According to the IOM, at least 27,629 have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean since 2014 - figures which are believed to be an underestimate.


The mostly deadly incident so far occurred on June 14th, 2023, with the sinking of the Adriana in the Greek Search and Rescue Zone, with 596 presumed dead.


Speaking earlier today, MEP Andrews said: “EU Member States continue to flout international law in their refusal to render assistance of those in distress. According to international maritime law, both shipmasters and States have an obligation to render assistance to those in distress at sea regardless of their nationality, status or the circumstances in which they are found, and irrespective of the intentions of those onboard. Although investigations are ongoing, it appears that the Greek authorities were informed hours before the boat eventually sank. This is nothing short of immoral and cannot be tolerated in the European Union”.


Currently, each coastal or island country is responsible for its Search and Rescue zone in the Mediterranean Sea, where it is obliged to initiate operations to rescue boats in distress if needed by involving private ships.


As the EU member state in charge of the rescue is also the one in charge of disembarkment and processing possible asylum requests, national coast guards are often suspected of waiting as much as possible before taking action.



The resolution coming before MEPs today calls for and EU-led search and rescue mission, measures to prevent the criminalization of humanitarian activities, such as NGO led Search and Rescue, and condemns the worsening situation in Libya, where human rights abuses by the Libyan authorities towards migrants have been well documented.




Mr Andrews added, “Conditions in the Mediterranean and neighbouring shores have never been more deadly, with more arrivals each year and less assistance than ever. The Libyan authorities continue to arbitrarily detain hundreds and thousands of migrants, subjecting them to inhumane conditions. I felt that the time was ripe to revisit the 2019 resolution, and am very glad that this request was approved. Now the priority is ensuring that this

resolution passes. The 2019 vote was a stain on the reputation of this house. I sincerely hope that the EPP group will do the right thing.”


Referring to the case of Seán Binder, Andrews added, “Ireland has a particular responsibility to stand up for this cause – one of our own citizens has risked his life to carry out search and rescue for an NGO, because States were shirking their own responsibilities, only to face criminal charges of espionage and smuggling in Greece. The criminalization of humanitarians is farcical. We need to take our commitment to human rights more seriously”.



Just this week, it has been reported that a Senegalese boat with a up to 200 people remains missing off the southern coast of Gran Canaria.

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