The European Union is currently facing the worst humanitarian crisis and disaster in the Mediterranean region after World War 2. Faderica Mogherini, the Chief of Foreign Affairs of European Union, urged the 28 member nations Monday, April 20, that they could no longer give any excuses for not acting to salvage the crisis situation in the Mediterranean. She added that a quick and immediate action plan was needed from the nations in European Union. She said this after reports of another boat carrying refugees sank into the sea with 300 people on board.
While a few of the survivors from another shipwreck claimed that nearly 1,000 were on board, reports claim that more than 700 people are feared dead. This vessel which capsized off the coast of Libya Sunday, April 19, was actually a fishing boat which was overcrowded and crammed with refugees and migrants who were fleeing from the war-torn African nations and seeking asylum and shelter in countries in the European Union.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) informed that it had received a distress call from a different boat in the Mediterranean, which reportedly had more than 20 people dead out of the more than 300 people it was carrying. Federico Soda from IOM emailed that the caller had asked for emergency help stating that his boat with more than 300 refugees was sinking fast. Soda claimed that IOM had shared the coordinates for that boat, along with two other vessels that had made similar distress calls, with the Italian coast guard. However, they were currently caught up with handling a previous shipwreck. Foreign and Interior officials of the European Union have met to deliberate on the action to be taken to salvage the rapidly deteriorating and the most disastrous situation in the Mediterranean since World War 2.
Since the start of 2015, multiple shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea have caused over 1000 deaths. Italian and Maltese navy boats have continued their search and rescue operations off the Libyan coast. However, only 28 survivors have been rescued so far apart from 24 bodies being recovered. More than 950 people were crammed into a boat with many of them being locked by smugglers below the deck. This was informed to the Italian officials by one of the survivors.
European media as well as the government officials of nations in the European Union have been alarmed by the crisis, which is being called ‘European Union’s darkest day’, and has caused public outrage. The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, said that the crisis was not worthy of Europe and she was appalled. She reportedly said that the nations in the European Union which are committed to preserving humanity, must find answers to this crisis even when there were no easy answers. It must be reported that Germany is the top destination in the European Union for asylum-seekers and refugees.
The refugee and human rights groups have asked the governments in the European Union to increase efforts in maritime rescue operations. They have demanded that the actual cause of the deluge of refugees and asylum-seekers looking to move to Europe must be addressed. It has been reported that in 2014, 170,000 asylum-seekers had landed on the shores of Italy. At least 11,000 people have been rescued since last week alone and it suggests that the number of refugees is going to shoot up in 2015 as the European Union faces the worst disaster in the Mediterranean since World War 2.
By Ankur Sinha