Mission Lifeline is calling on European ministers meeting in Malta to discuss migration next Monday to guarantee safe passage through the Mediterranean for all people fleeing their country.

In a statement on Saturday, the NGO hoped next week’s summit will address and improve the problems witnessed in the last months of EU states denying a safe port to search and rescue NGOs, leading to repeated stand-offs while creating unsafe and dangerous conditions for the already vulnerable rescued people on board.

The organisation is also calling for the agreement with the Libyan coastguard to end, for NGOs to stop being criminalised and for a reform of the Dublin regulations.

On Monday, Home Affairs ministers from France, Italy, Germany, Finland and Malta are meeting at Fort St Angelo to discuss the 'Predictive Temporary Allocation Programme' which should decide on an agreement on how to manage migrant landings and relocation in Europe.

This was the second meeting of its kind this year and no satisfactory solution had yet been found, the NGO said.

It pointed out that since the beginning of 2019 and according to the organisation Missing Migrants, there have been 933 reported deaths in the Mediterranean Sea due to attempted crossing to Europe.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations conducted by humanitarian NGOs continued to be criminalised by European governments. The ship Mission Lifeline had been seized for 15 months and its crew were still on board waiting for authorisation to go out to sea.

“Every additional day the Lifeline is not allowed to leave the port, more avoidable deaths take place,” said the NGOs Captain Claus-Peter Reisch, who was recently fined €300,000 by Italian authorities after entering the port of Pozzalo despite a ban. 

Mission Lifeline said the situation was part of a general EU migration policy as they continued to externalise their borders, criminalise NGOs conducting search and rescue operations and carry out illegal pushbacks.

The consequences of these policies had not only led to people being returned to detention centres in Libya, are notorious for their inhuman treatment of migrants with numerous human right violations including, rape, torture and the trafficking of persons being reported, they were also generating preventable deaths in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
“Tragically, European states are undermining and attacking the post-War international law by subverting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, other conventions on sea rescue and the safety of life at sea, the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Such disregard for international law is irresponsible and dangerous,” the organisation said.

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