Restart the Rescue: migrants’ ordeal isn’t over yet
Back in April, our Restart the Rescue campaign called on the UK’s political leaders to put a stop to the EU’s heartless policy of abandoning search and rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean.
In a matter of weeks, hundreds of lives had been lost as migrants – many of them children – risked everything in search of a better life in Europe.
Tens of thousands of our supporters spoke out to stop children drowning – and it worked!
The government acted quickly to deploy HMS Bulwark on a search and rescue mission to the Mediterranean. And the crew is doing an incredible job.
They’ve already saved thousands of people from drowning – including many children and pregnant women. On Sunday 7 June alone, they saved 1,200 lives in one day alone.
The hard work isn’t over yet
But migrants are still fleeing war, persecution and extreme poverty to travel to Europe in their thousands. Italy’s reception centres have been overwhelmed.
That’s why, when European Interior Ministers meet in Luxembourg today to discuss the crisis in the Mediterranean, we’re calling on Home Secretary Theresa May to ensure that Britain plays its part in relocating unaccompanied migrant children, having played such an important role in rescuing them.
So far this year, close to 54,000 people have landed in Italy, including more than 5,000 children – most of them unaccompanied, travelling alone without an adult’s protection.
And with the reception centres struggling to cope, vulnerable children have to sleep rough or stay in sports halls and churches.
They risk falling prey to people traffickers and being forced into prostitution, child labour and the drug trade.
In Greece, the situation’s even worse, with reception systems strained under the pressure of thousands of new arrivals.
The largest number of migrant families arriving in Europe this year is from Syria, forced to make the dangerous journey by boat to flee the war in their home country.
We must do our fair share
Britain has a scheme to resettle the most vulnerable families but has so far only accepted fewer than 200 people – but Save the Children believes we should be accepting our fair share.
We’re calling on Theresa May to agree to relocate at least 1,500 unaccompanied children from Italy, and to be prepared to do the same to respond to the alarming situation now unfolding in Greece.
Our CEO, Justin Forsyth says European leaders must acknowledge that the problem doesn’t go away when people are brought to shore. “For many migrants, including lone children at risk from people traffickers, their ordeal isn’t over when they land in Europe.
“Italy and Greece cannot be expected to bear the brunt of this issue – this is a Europe-wide problem that requires a Europe-wide solution.
In April, our leaders acted. Because they did, thousands of lives have been saved. Now they must step up again, and ensure that we do our fair share to support migrants as they start to rebuild their lives.
We’re launching our own rescue ship to save thousands of children’s lives.