SEARCH, SAVE & PROTECT (Central Mediterranean)

21 312*. A number that should shake things up. Yet nothing. 21,312 is the underestimated number of people who have died in the Central Mediterranean since 2014, and at the same time, the abandonment of the Mare Nostrum** program by the European Union and Italy.
To compensate for the discontinuation of this program, NGOs have decided to charter several rescue boats. Their mission: to help the overcrowded makeshift boats of exiles attempting the dangerous crossing from Libya to Europe.
21,312 - a number that makes the Mediterranean the world's deadliest migratory route.
Migration has existed in the Mediterranean for thousands of years. More recently, however, since the mid-1990s, thousands of people have been crossing the Mediterranean on makeshift boats from the coasts of North Africa and Turkey to seek asylum or migrate to Europe. In the 2000s, this phenomenon became more widespread.
At sea, whether on the Ocean Viking (SOS Méditerranée's boat) or the Geo Barents (Médecin sans Frontière's boat), the credo is the same: to train again and again to assist boats in distress, carrying children, women and men fleeing in search of a better life.
On land, European migration policies act as bulwarks, refusing to open up legal channels for people trying to change their lives. Backed by Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) and its 750 million *** budget, Fortress Europe deploys its military and legislative arsenal to prevent border crossings on land and at sea: drones, planes, boats, administrative detentions, decrees criminalizing the work of NGOs... Europe is constantly reinventing itself to prevent what is known as irregular or illegal immigration.
The latest example is Italy, where Giorgia Meloni's far-right government has just passed a new decree requiring humanitarian boats to return to port after each rescue. These ports, designated by the Italian authorities, are assigned further and further away from the search area. It's a method that's putting NGOs out of business, forcing them to make long sea journeys and endless return trips between port and rescue zone. The technique is crystal-clear: waste time and money while the attempts to cross the sea continue unabated.
As you read this text, in France, a bill on immigration is due to be debated by members of parliament. Let's hope the land of human rights doesn't turn off its lights...
*, updated June 2023
** Operation Mare Nostrum is the military and humanitarian operation led by the Military Marina between October 2013 and November 2014. It was launched after the tragedy in Lampedusa, where 366 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off the island.
*** Frontex website, budget 2022