Irish Navy's Mediterranean rescue mission welcome but political policies creating this human tragedy must be reversed - Lynn Boylan MEP
The news that the crew of the LÉ William Butler Yeats was involved in the rescue of over 200 people in the Mediterranean reminds us that people continue to risk their lives in order to reach the safety of Europe.
The search and rescue role performed by the Irish Navy has saved thousands of lives since the Navy was first deployed in 2015 as part of a bilateral operation with Italy. The success of the joint Irish-Italian operation has shown that bilateral search and rescue missions fulfill a vital humanitarian role.
Speaking in Dublin, Lynn Boylan said:
“The vital humanitarian work of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean needs to continue. Increasingly, such humanitarian missions are becoming a secondary consideration for the EU as the focus shifts to preventing people from reaching Europe.
"The EU’s Naval operation, operation Sophia is primarily focused on targeting people traffickers and preventing people from attempting the dangerous trip, not search and rescue missions
"The humanitarian success of Ireland's bilateral operation with Italy has been replaced by Irish participation in a EU led navel operation which has been criticised by NGOs for trapping refugees in Libya where they suffer various human rights abuses and for making the crossing even more dangerous for those desperately trying to reach safety in Europe’
"Nearly three years into the refugee crisis the EU continues to prioritise securitisation and is attempting to force a military solution onto a humanitarian problem.
"While according to a UNHRC report in July the numbers attempting the perilous journey is increasing. If EU member States are serious about finding a solution to the refugee crisis then the focus has to be on addressing the issues which cause people to risk their lives to reach Europe.
"While the EU’s priority is border control the Irish navy’s participation should be limited bilateral search and rescue operations which respect our neutrality"