Save the Children Restarts Rescue Petition After 700 Drown

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In April a major rescue operation took place in the Mediterranean after as many as 700 migrants were feared to have drowned just outside Libyan waters, in what could prove to be the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled into Europe. The passengers are often locked in the hold of the ship, meaning they have little chance of survival in an ­emergency.

This tragedy is now considered the worst migrant boat disaster since the Second World War; only a handful of survivors were found by the Italian coastguards and fishermen. Every woman and child on board is feared to have drowned. Save the Children, one of the primary aid agencies working on this issue, believes countries in Europe can help stop the scandal of children drowning in these waters.

This charity has been on the front lines in the migrant crisis and says it has been growing increasingly worried about an expected increase in children making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Since the Lampedusa shipwrecks in 2013, thousands more refugees and migrants have died attempting the perilous journey to Europe in unseaworthy boats, exploited by smugglers and abandoned by governments. The woeful response of European Union (EU) countries has contributed to the spiralling death toll, with more than 2,500 people, many of them children, drowning or missing—the real number will never be known, as many bodies are lost at sea.

The current conflict in Syria has caused the worst humanitarian crisis this century, where more than three million people have fled the country. A large number of those trying to get to Europe by boat are Syrians. They are making this perilous journey to seek safety overseas and are desperate, whatever the costs and risks. These ‘passengers’ frequently travel without water, food or warmth, paying anywhere between $5,000 and $9,000 a person for the crossing. A single shipment might be worth $1 million. People are prepared to pay the premium rather than risk trying to take the cheaper route from Libya, where African migrants endure far worse conditions.

Last November, Pope Francis made an impassioned plea for Europe to recognise the "human dignity of immigrants,” saying "We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery." Save the Children has a started a petition calling on all political leaders to say where they stand: do they want to restart the rescue and stop children drowning? 

Photo Credit: One Europe