We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of an estimated 400 migrants, and express our condolences to friends and family of the deceased. At the same time, we thank all those persons who, on almost a daily basis, are involved in difficult search and rescue operations as their relentless efforts prevent further loss of lives.
It might be easy for Malta to look at the small number of arrivals last year and believe that these tragedies are a thing of the past, or that they do not require our individual and collective concern. Such a shortsighted approach not only fails to appreciate the human dimension of such tragedies, but also leads us to believe that Malta has no legal and moral responsibilities in their regard.
This recent incident, like all other maritime tragedies, urges us to direct our grief to seeking ways of preventing their repetition. It is unacceptable that the Mediterranean Sea, our own immediate environment, keeps accumulating corpses of men, women and children who are desperately seeking to be safe, to live a more stable life, to reunite with their loved ones, to be free from persecution.
Once again, we urgently call upon the European Union and all Member States to prevent such incidents by doing their utmost to secure safe and legal access to Europe. We also remind Malta and Italy of their responsibility to do everything within their power to save lives and to offer prompt access to asylum procedures and dignified reception conditions to people seeking protection in Europe.
Statement of the following NGOs:
aditus foundation, African Media Association Malta, Foundation for Shelter and Support of Migrants, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), KOPIN, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant’s Network for Equality, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, Peace Lab, People for Change Foundation, SOS Malta.