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Amsterdam / Marseille - (12 July 2018) – Over 600 people attempting to cross the Central Mediterranean have drowned or are presumed drowned in the last 4 weeks alone including babies and toddlers. These tragedies, which represent half of the total deaths so far in 2018, took place as there were no longer non-governmental organisation (NGO) rescue boats active on the Central Mediterranean. One month ago, the search and rescue ship Aquarius, run by SOS MEDITERRANEE in partnership with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), was blocked by Italian authorities from disembarking 630 people rescued at sea. Further blockages and obstruction of NGO rescue ships by European states followed.
“The European political decisions that have been taken during the past weeks have had deadly consequences. There has been a cold-blooded decision to leave men, women and children to drown in the Mediterranean Sea. This is outrageous and unacceptable” said Karline Kleijer, MSF head of emergencies. “Rather than deliberately obstructing the provision of life-saving medical and humanitarian assistance to people in distress at sea, European Governments must set up proactive and dedicated search and rescue capacity in the Central Mediterranean”.
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