TUC says EU leaders must resume ‘Mare Nostrum’ search and rescue operation.

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Migrants

The TUC is calling on David Cameron to work with other EU leaders at today’s extraordinary summit  to extend search and rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as taking action to promote stability and peace in the countries where refugees are fleeing.

More than 800 people are estimated to have died on Sunday when their fishing boat capsized.

Last year EU leaders replaced the ‘Mare Nostrum’ search and rescue operation, which found and saved more than 100,000 migrants at sea, with ‘Triton’ – a border patrol operation with less than a third of the budget, partly due to UK government decisions to refuse to pay. At the time, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), to which the TUC, belongs condemned the move.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The huge number of migrants who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean this year alone must move EU leaders to immediately resume the ‘Mare Nostrum’ search and rescue operation. It is inexcusable that this operation which could have prevented the deaths of migrants at sea was stopped last year.

“Only stability and social justice at home will stop desperate people risking the crossing to Europe. But we shouldn’t let austerity and euro-scepticism obstruct the EU’s humanitarian duty to protect those fleeing war and poverty.”

ETUC general secretary elect Luca Visentini said: “The world’s richest nations cannot sit by and watch desperate people drown in their thousands just off the EU’s coastline. The deaths that have followed the end of search and rescue operations last year were entirely predictable, and are all the more reprehensible as a result. Those who said that search and rescue just encouraged migration should hold their heads in shame.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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