Federica Mogherini has presided over the withdrawal of rescue resources, and therefore bears some responsibility for the tragic losses at sea.
Senator Daly attended the Inter-Parliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in Rome last November 2014.
As far back as November 2014, Senator Daly was highlighting the worsening situation in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately calls for the reinstatement of ‘Mare Nostrum’ by Senator Daly were not heeded by Ms Mogherini who was at the conference. Consequently, the migrant death toll is thirty times higher this year than for the same period last year. This statistic was tragically illustrated last Monday the 20th of April with the death of 900 migrants.
Over its lifespan ‘Mare Nostrum’ saved 100,000 shipwrecked refugees – an incredible number considering it was only operational for twelve months. The operation which covered 27,000km2 was ran at the cost of nine million euros a month. The mission involved the use of five naval vessels, helicopters, five aircraft, and two submarines and was staffed by 900 personnel. Replacing ‘Mare Nostrum’ was an initiative called ‘Triton’.
In stark contrast to ‘Mare Nostrum’ the focus of ‘Triton’ has been the protection of European borders. ‘Triton’ only patrols within 30km of the coast and has a budget of three million euros– less than a third that of Mare Nostrum. Frontex (the European parent body of Triton) operations director Klaus Rosler has said ‘the first priority would be ensuring effective border control and monitoring of criminal networks in Northern Africa’. Roberta Pinotti, the Italian minister for defence has voiced similar sentiments, she has accepted that ‘Italian assets in the Mediterranean has decreased from nine million euros to three million euros, from five ‘big ships’ to one ship… and three smaller patrol boats’.
This scaling back of rescue capabilities is an affront to humanitarian well-being in the region. The result of this decision has been a proliferation of the crisis. Since the start 2015, 1,750 migrants have lost their lives on the perilous journey to Europe. This represents a clear abdication of a duty of care which European states have for migrants attempting to enter their borders. The situation has a certain tragic irony, in that many of the countries from which migrants are fleeing – Eretria, Libya, Syria, and Somalia included – were in fact colonised by European nations in the 19th century. Senator Daly, who has been monitoring the situation, has explained ‘European inertia has had drastic effects in terms of loss of life’
The only short term solution to the crisis is the reinstatement of an initiative similar to ‘Mare Nostrum’ with an emphasis on search and rescue rather than border protection. If this crisis is ignored further it will worsen and the necessary response will be more costly, and the death toll will rise exponentially.