Sinn Féin’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Seán Crowe TD, has called for the EU to do more to stop migrant drownings in the Mediterranean Sea, which are claiming the lives of hundreds and thousands of people attempting to reach the EU. Crowe raised the issue in the Dáil during Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs today.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The Mediterranean Sea is now one of the most dangerous in the world and becoming a mass graveyard as migrants trying to reach Europe are drowning in huge numbers.

“The latest migrant boat tragedy claimed the lives of over 700 people when a boat carrying them towards Italy capsized off Libya. 1,500 migrants have drowned on their way to reach Europe in 2015, this is 50 times more than at same point in 2014.

“This latest tragedy shows that the current EU’s policy and programmes in place are not fit for purpose. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that the EU is not doing enough to save lives.

“We need to strengthen search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas through a joint effort involving all EU Member States. Last year, an Italian search-and-rescue mission that saved more than 100,000 people at sea in 12 months, was discontinued following a row over funding and the burden falling solely on Italy.

“I welcome the Italian Government’s call for an emergency summit on this huge humanitarian crisis. Ireland also needs to be part of a solution to this mounting crisis.

“The EU, as a whole, needs to provide more safe and legal routes to Europe for those fleeing conflict and persecution so they are not forced to take dangerous journeys in the first place; and ensure they have access to international protection when they reach Europe’s borders.

“The summer is fast approaching and the good weather and calmer seas will mean that inevitably more people are expected to attempt the crossing. The EU needs to immediately put in place a coordinated and robustly funded search and rescue mission.”