Save the Children suspends Mediterranean rescue operations

Photo credit: Save the Children. The Vos Hestia

TMP – 15/11/2017

International humanitarian group Save the Children announced on 23 October that it has suspended its migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The decision comes after carefully assessing the reduction in the flow of migrants trying to cross the central Mediterranean to reach Europe, and the changing security and effectiveness of sea-going search and rescue operations in the area,” Save the Children Director General Valerio Neri said in a statement.

Save the Children’s ship has rescued more than 10,000 migrants since its launch in September last year.
The Italian government has accused migrant rescue groups operating in the Mediterranean of providing an incentive for smugglers to send migrants on flimsy overcrowded boats in the belief that they will be rescued at sea.

On the day Save the Children announced the suspension of rescue operations, Italian police searched the Vos Hestia, the charity’s chartered ship. Prosecutors from the Sicilian port city of Trapani, who have been investigating organisations involved in Mediterranean rescue operations, ordered the search.

However the charity said its decision to halt operations was already planned before the police conducted a search on its ship at the Sicilian port of Catania, and that it is not under investigation.

Other NGOs have also ceased rescue operations citing the Libyan coastguard’s increasingly aggressive measures against aid groups as well as a sharp drop in migrant arrivals to Europe.