Death by Rescue

Forensic Oceanography/Watch the Med Report, April 2016

One year after two successive shipwrecks that occurred on the 12 and 18 April of 2015 and led to the death of more than 1,200 migrants, 500 persons are reported missing after their boat capsized last week in the Mediterranean Sea.

Yet again, this shipwreck proves, if there were still need to do so, that surveillance and security obsession override rescue. Even though the European Union (EU) and its Member States pretend to act in order to avoid losses of human lives, the numerous – Frontex, NATO, or Sophia operation-related – patrol vessels state they have no information about this shipwreck. However, hundreds of people may have drowned before their eyes.

Forensic Oceanography, a British research laboratory, publishes a report – in collaboration with Watch The Med – that reconstructs the events and conditions that led to this grim series of tragedies. It focuses in particular on the responsibility of EU Member States, policy makers and agencies, demonstrating that, by ending the military-humanitarian Mare Nostrum operation in November 2014 to make way to a more limited Frontex-led Triton operation, they implemented a policy of non-assistance through which they knowingly created the conditions that led to massive loss of life, in the name of the securing of European borders.

The aims of deterrence of migrants and European borders’ locking continue to prevail over the protection of lives. Results are before our eyes.

See the report on