THE European Union’s troubled naval mission against people smuggling in the Mediterranean faced yet another setback last week as Germany announced it was suspending participation, a decision MPs said was the result of Italy’s consistent refusal to allow rescued migrants entry at its ports.
The removal of Germany’s ship leaves the mission, Operation Sophia, with only two vessels. Meanwhile, migrants continue to drown in the Mediterranean – 201 so far this year including in two recent shipwrecks, one off the coast of Libya, the second between Morocco and Spain. Many of those rescued are being brought to Libya, and Medecins Sans Frontieres says it has seen a sharp increase in the number of people held in crowded detention centres there conditions are dire, with shortages of clean water and food.
Human Rights Watch said EU policies, including the decision to enable the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept and return people, are contributing to a “cycle of extreme abuse” against migrants in the country. For a forensic examination of one Mediterranean incident in 2017 in which at least 20 migrants died, check out this film, How Europe Outsources Migrant Suffering at Sea, from Times Insider.