It seems that 2023 is going to be one of the deadliest years for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean. More than 1000 people have lost their lives on their way to Europe since January – the highest number since 2017.
What are the key factors leading to this increase in the number of arrivals and fatalities at sea this year? How can we help people in distress at sea quickly and effectively? How can the EU put in place coordinated European maritime rescue?
These are just some of the questions to be discussed together with António Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration at today’s event in the Federal Foreign Office at the invitation of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
Participants come from a wide spectrum of fields and include experts from international organisations (UNHCR, IOM, IMO, etc.), German and European non-governmental organisations (including civil-society maritime rescue), as well as think-tanks, academia and research. The international experts combine legal, academic, humanitarian and practical expertise on this topic. There is a major need for action. After all, despite all efforts to combat the root causes of displacement and stabilise the countries of origin this will not bring about a short‑term reduction in the number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean. For that reason, the participants in the various working groups will draw up proposals and recommendations on how to make concrete improvements so that ideally no‑one perishes on the crossing.
It is clear that there are no fast and simple solutions. The European Commission has set up a European Contact Group on Search and Rescue (known as the SAR Contact Group) to facilitate better coordination between the relevant national authorities in the flag and coastal member states, as well as with other actors involved in maritime rescue in the Mediterranean. Alongside national coastguard services, civil-society actors involved in maritime rescue make an important contribution in helping to save lives.