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New report debunks "toxic narrative" aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean
9.6.17
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A new report examines the accusations made by state officials, commentators and others that search and rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are a "pull factor" for migrants and are effectively working in league with people smugglers. The report, Blaming the Rescuers, argues that as well as being false, those accusations have allowed state actors "to divert public attention from their own responsibilities and failures" and are part of "a wider attempt to criminalise solidarity towards migrants and refugees, which endangers the possibility of EU citizens standing in solidarity and exercising civilian oversight at the EU’s frontiers to contest their deadly effects."

See the report from the Forensic Architecture department of the University of Goldsmiths, London: Blaming the Rescuers: Criminalising solidarity, re-enforcing deterrence (link):

"Aiming to deter migrants from crossing the Mediterranean, the EU and its member states pulled back from rescue at sea at the end of 2014, leading to record numbers of deaths. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were forced to deploy their own rescue missions in a desperate attempt to fill this gap and reduce casualties. Today, NGOs are under attack, wrongly accused of ‘colluding with smugglers’, ‘constituting a pull-factor’ and ultimately endangering migrants. This report refutes these accusations through empirical analysis. It is written to avert a looming catastrophe: if NGOs are forced to stop or reduce their operations, many more lives will be lost to the sea."

In their summary of the report, the authors conclude:

"As long as migrants are forced to resort to smugglers for lack of legal pathways, proactive Search and Rescue at sea will be a humanitarian necessity – whether it is operated by states or NGOs. Only a fundamental re-orientation of the EU’s migration policies to grant legal and safe passage may bring the smuggling business, the daily reality of thousands of migrants’ in distress and the need to rescue them to an end."

Blaming the Rescuers follows a previous report, Death by Rescue (link).

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