Over 19.000 death in eight years in the central Mediterranean Sea; Emergency ‘Life Support’ vessel ready to save lives while EU New Pact still stuck on track

London, 4 September 2022 – A sea, a graveyard: between Northern African countries and Italy entire families drowned escaping dictatorship and extreme poverty in search of the nearest shore to start a new life.

While the new EU law is still on hold, illegal immigrants still die crossing the deadliest route: the Central Mediterranean.

UNHCR reports in 2021 over one thousand people were estimated to have died in the attempt to cross the Central Mediterranean route. The main route from Libya to Italy is the main route for tens of thousands people, coming also from Sub Saharan Africa.

From 1st January to 31 July 2022 UNHCR reports 67,500 estimated arrivals via the Mediterranean and Northwest African maritime routes, with 1,326 dead and missing at sea (cumulative figures). See map below:

This devastating death toll is far from seeing its end: there isn’t any agreement in sight on the EU front. The recent common declaration of 18 member states is is pure acknowledgement of the ‘voluntary’ principle stated in the EU New Pact for Migration still stuck on its legislative train schedule for final approval.

The solidarity principle among members states for relocation of asylum seekers with consequent financial transfers between states will rise inevitable disputes and not just in relation to the number of refugees to be relocated in a different state. The recent common statement for its “gradual” implementation confirms the frail structure of the new upcoming legislation.

The reality is that only humanitarian NGOs are giving thousands of people mainly from Africa, who are paying with their lives and their extreme poverty for criminal regimes partly supported right from western democracies.

Emergency, the international rescue NGO founded by surgeon Gino Strada, operating in war zones and, with its ships, in the Mediterranean for search and rescue operations is giving us the horrific death toll while unveiling their new search and rescue vessel. ‘Life Support’, now docked in Genoa harbour, is going to start its operations with medics and on board.

On its main deck a medical clinic, beds for pre clinical or surgery treatments are set up to face the frontline NGO’s are fighting alone against the invisible army of energy, financial and geopolitical interests.

Emy Muzzi