Ending the Italian rescue operation Mare Nostrum will lead to thousands more death at sea

Ending Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum without replacing it by a well-resourced European search and rescue initiative would mean more deaths at sea.

One year ago, just a few days after more than 300 people drowned off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy launched the Mare Nostrum operation to ensure search and rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean. Since then, Mare Nostrum has saved around 150,000 people.

Some 3,000 people have drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year – the vast majority of them in Libyan waters, outside the area where Mare Nostrum was operated. The figure would be higher if not for the Italian navy’s search-and-rescue operation which is due to end this week.

If the Mare Nostrum operation is stopped then the numbers of people drowning will undoubtedly increase and we shouldn’t have to wait for another Lampedusa tragedy for politicians in the UK, France or Spain to decide what is more important: the politics of keeping desperate migrants out or the politics of fishing refugees out of the water.

This petition calls on the EU to stop playing politics with migrants lives and put in place a well-resourced European search and rescue initiative. Sign it here.