Amnesty welcomes decision to increase funding for migrant search and rescue operations

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Amnesty International has welcomed the European Commission’s decision to increase the Operation Triton’s resources and operational area.

“By adding resources to patrol the central Mediterranean and expanding the operational area of Triton to the level of the defunct Operation Mare Nostrum, the European Union has finally recognised the colossal mistake in closing Italy’s operation without replacing it with an equivalent mission,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “In practice, this means more assets at sea, closer to where most refugees and migrants, travelling on overcrowded and unseaworthy boats, get into trouble and risk drowning. And ultimately more lives will be saved.”

Amnesty International however, warned that lives will continue to be at risk in the Mediterranean.

The organization called for a comprehensive approach to migration including offering more safe and legal routes to those seeking international protection. Without this, Amnesty International said, people will continue to embark on perilous journeys across the Mediterranean to Europe as a last resort.

Amnesty International has been calling for an increased number of resettlement places for refugees.

The EC has proposed an emergency scheme to relocated 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece to other EU member states over a two year period.

“Any relocation proposals will only make a positive difference to the lives of those in need if reception conditions are improved, asylum systems are strengthened across the EU and the will of asylum-seekers is taken into consideration,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.