We have written and stood for this many times: the civil ships put to sea by NGOs are islands of humanity, that give hope of survival to those forced to cross the Mediterranean – risking their lives in hopes of a better chance. We gave substance to this conviction, this certainty, when, a couple of years ago, we joined the ResQ project and contributed to launching a civil NGO ship put to sea to save lives. We still are proud supporters of ResQ: people saving people.
And we reaffirmed our stance last autumn, joining this initiative, set up by the Naples Human Rights Film Festival. Today we are still here, in the aftermath of a new massacre in the Mediterranean, listening to and reading nonsense that we would not like to hear. We would not like to hear a minister of our Italian Republic say: “if there is no certainty of life for your children, you cannot start a dangerous journey”. He should not say that, because it shows the arrogance of the privileged – without any merit other than the good fortune of being born in a certain place – of those who do not understand what it means to see their children die of hunger, of war, or of the absence of health care, of work, of a future. He should not say this, then, as he pretends not to know that we have imposed that way of travelling, on migrants, by sealing our borders, denying them permission to enter in any way. The long journey across the desert at the mercy of organised crime, to the Libyan coasts, the detention camps, the dilapidated barges, are our invention.
We are ruled by false, cynical and humanly dangerous characters. For this reason, we strongly relaunch the campaign ‘A UN flag for humanitarian ships’. Those ships are the only hope for thousands of people. They are criminalised by those who, criminally, cynically create the conditions for killing. Securing those ships and those NGOs, which we consider sisters, part of us and what we do every day, does not mean solving migrant issues. It simply means doing what every human being should do: saving lives. We believe this, with the certainty that we are in the right.
Read our joint statement below and consider sharing, signing and spreading the word. Thank you.
A UN FLAG FOR HUMANITARIAN SHIPS
Ships that rescue at sea must be given the UN flag, and the UN can do this. The so-called Libyan Sar zone must be deleted from the IMO, the International Maritime Organisation. The central Mediterranean is the world’s deadliest route: more than 25 thousand victims since 2014, more than 1,400 in 2022 alone. And more than 30,000, again last year, were the refugee and migrant men, women and children returned to the Libyan hell from which they had tried to escape by putting to sea.
Despite this silent massacre of human lives, Europe and Italy continue to build a wall against migrants, instead of doing what international law requires: making every effort to save those in danger of dying at sea. Not only that. Europe and Italy also continue to criminalise and obstruct in every way those who try to rescue them, namely the ships of the civil fleet, the only ones committed to safeguarding those human beings left to their own devices. We are, therefore, witnessing a process of ‘criminalisation of solidarity’ that exposes crews, in the case of humanitarian ships that rescue at sea, to real persecution with possible judicial consequences.
For this reason, the signatories of this appeal, coordinated by the Naples Human Rights Film Festival, have decided to appeal to the United Nations to ensure that the lives and dignity of the crews of humanitarian ships and of migrants snatched from certain death at sea are protected through two actions to be implemented as soon as possible.
Read, spread, sign and have signed the appeal, which is extended to all European countries, proposed in full, which will be sent to the relevant UN bodies (Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human Rights) by the end of March 2023. Thank you.
(Cover image: Victor Britto for ResQ – All rights reserved)