Migrants on a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean | Photo: EPA/Hannah Wallace Bowman
Migrants on a rubber dinghy in the Mediterranean | Photo: EPA/Hannah Wallace Bowman

Members of the S&D group in the EU parliament have called on the European Commision to create a permanent mechanism for migrant search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

A permanent mechanism for search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean for migrants is long overdue, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) belonging to the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group said in a June 8 letter. The letter was addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The signatories of the letter include S&D group president Iratxe Garcia Perez and vice presidents Simona Bonafè and Kati Piri.

The fact that there is no search and rescue mechanism, the signatories argue, "results in persons and rescue boats becoming hostage to short-term political interests and bargaining among member states [and] undermines the EU's credibility among its neighbors and leaves some EU member states to face the challenge alone."

Their demand: 'Urgently act on this'

"We cannot wait any longer and we expect the commission to urgently act on this and establish a permanent mechanism for search and rescue in the Mediterranean," they wrote. The S&D MEPs said that Italy and Malta, which receive the largest number of migrants fleeing Libya, cannot be left to deal with the challenge alone and that the EU asylum system must be revised as soon as possible.

Thousands of migrants have died in the past few years trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. According to the UN migration agency IOM, at least 1,885 migrants died in the Mediterranean last year.
 

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