Strasbourg, 29.11.2013 – “I am shocked to read the results of an investigation into the 11 October boat tragedy in the waters between Lampedusa and Malta, reported in today’s L’Espresso magazine, which reveals that over 200 people fleeing Syria died when they could have been saved,” said Tineke Strik (Netherlands, SOC), rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on lives lost in the Mediterranean.
“It is clear that many of the failures I identified after my own investigation into an incident in 2011, in which 63 migrants died when their distress calls were ignored, have been repeated.
What particularly concerns me are the alleged delays in going to the assistance of this boat. It would appear that these were caused by, firstly, a ping-pong disagreement between Italy and Malta over who should take responsibility for the rescue and, secondly, that the rescue signals sent out did not have the urgency needed to trigger immediate assistance. Today’s fresh revelations also appear to show that, once again, ships were close by and could have gone to the rescue more quickly. All these issues urgently need further investigation. What is clear is that crucial hours leaked away that could have been used to save lives.
When the situation of the boat became dramatic, both Italian and Maltese Search and Rescue sent help to the sinking boat, and by so doing saved 212 lives. This is to be applauded, as are the stepped-up measures of “Operation Mare Nostrum” subsequently launched by the Italian authorities. But I ask the question: what about the 200 persons who drowned? Could not their lives have been saved if lessons had been learned from the 2011 incident that I investigated?”
Mrs Strik is currently preparing a follow-up report to her earlier inquiry, due in the spring of 2014.