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Reddingsschip Aquarius sail no more

The last professional reddingsschip of ngos throws the towel in the ring. “This is a dark day for Europe’, says MSF director Meinie Nicolai. “More migrants will drown.’

Unimaginable’, muses a member of the crew of the Aquarius from Marseille. He has made the news a few days ago already heard, but there is still afflicted. ‘Migrants rescue at sea is, in a few years time is a political act. That was the past, not really. This decision is historic, but in a creepy way.”

The Aquarius likes final with save. That announce Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and its partner SOS-Mediterranee airport later today at a press conference. Stop the work, under political pressure, they say. Persistent intimidation, lastercampagnes and obstacles made the work impossible. It started last summer, it sounds, when all the rescue organizations have a code of conduct had to sign. Since then, they are in the defensive. That there are also irregularities in small ngos were established fed the unsubstantiated rumours that the Aquarius cooperates with smugglers.

Repressive policies

The last five months, the situation on the striker driven under the impulse of Matteo Salvini, the radical right-wing Italian minister of the Interior. In June, when the boat, with 629 African drowning people on board, suddenly the Italian ports, not more. She was forced to more than a thousand miles to move to Spain. Then it was up to two times, under diplomatic pressure, the flag of the ship withdrawn. Finally came two weeks ago, allegations of illegal waste disposal and the spread of diseases such as aids and tuberculosis, through the clothing of immigrants. That such a thing is medically impossible, by the investigators just overlooked.

‘Really unexpected, the decision by the ngos not’, is the response migratiedeskundige Matteo Villa, on the phone from Milan. ‘This government has an explicitly repressive policies in respect of the work of ngos in the Mediterranean Sea.’ Villa is a researcher of the Italian Institute for Political Studies (Ispi). His research into the migration routes of the Mediterranean Sea, is widely quoted.

Support population

‘Salvini has a majority for his policies. 70 percent of Italians supported the decision to use the ports to close, certainly not just the voters of his party, Lega.’ In 2013 polled Ipsos also to the support for rescue at sea, then it was 60 percent of the Italians in favour of far-reaching rescue. But five years and more than 600,000 migrants – later, feels Italy is left in the lurch by the rest of the EU and is the base of support eroded.

“This is a dark day for Europe,” says Meinie Nicolai, president of MSF in a press release. “Europe condemns people to death by drowning.’ With the cessation of the activities of the Aquarius disappears the last of the big boat above the Libyan waters.

More deaths

‘Since Salvini is in power, is the migratory route deadlier than ever”, says Villa. The number of murders increased from three per day before Salvini, to eight per day. “Although the arrivals still further decreased, the number of deaths again increase dramatically. Salvini said: “Fewer arrivals means less killing.” That humanitarian argument is not correct.’
Since February 2016 has the Aquarius to 30,000 migrants rescued. MSF has saved a total of 80,000 people since 2015. Although there has been, since January, already more than 2,000 people drowned, is the reddingszone over Libya now mostly empty.

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