Europe’s “Let Them Die” Policy, One Month after Mass Drowning

It’s been one month since the horrific mass drowning off the coast of Greece in which some 650 people lost their lives. The world has learned much about the disaster in the meantime.
The last four weeks have brought at least three investigations damning the Greek coastguard’s botched response to the overcrowded vessel, highlighting their earlier failure to respond, and suggesting a possible cover-up of evidence afterwards.
There are still many questions to answer, of course, and HRW will publish our own investigation in time.
But one thing is clear: this horror was avoidable. Like thousands of other drownings on Europe’s frontiers – individually, in their dozens, and in their hundreds – last month’s was the predictable result of policy choices the European Union and member states have made.
The EU and its members decided to cut proactive search and rescue at sea. They obstruct search-and-rescue operations of private groups. And they even criminalize rescue workers and persecute those who dare to remind people that migrants and asylum seekers are human beings with rights like the rest of us.
The policy of EU and member state “leaders” can be summed up in three words: let them die.
An awful part of this moral bankruptcy is crocodile tears from European politicians every time there’s a major disaster like the one last month. (Politicians simply ignore lower death counts, of course.)
They make a show of railing against the human traffickers – i.e., people the politicians themselves have enriched by not offering safe channels for asylum and legal migration. And EU politicians insincerely lament what an awful thing has happened, pretending they aren’t fully aware their policies were integral to the mass drowning.
Because make no mistake: they are fully aware. These are not stupid people; everyone knows full well if you cut, obstruct, and criminalize search-and-rescue operations at sea, more people are going to drown.
They know they could save those lives they make an act of crying over. They simply choose not to.
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Mali’s Emergency Deepens
The news from Mali is grim.
Security in the country has deteriorated sharply amid clashes between two armed Islamist groups competing for influence. A new report details how they have carried out widespread killings, rapes, and lootings of villages in northeast Mali since January.
HRW has also documented atrocities by the Malian security forces and apparent Wagner mercenary forces during counterinsurgency operations in central Mali.
To top it all off, Mali’s transitional military government has convinced the UN Security Council to approve the departure of the UN peacekeeping force. This will not only impact security and civilian protection directly but also end the mission’s important work of documenting human rights abuses.
The fighting and instability have sparked a massive humanitarian emergency in Mali. The UN reports the conflict has forced more than 375,000 people from their homes.
It’s difficult to see how the situation might improve in the immediate future. But at the very least, the Malian authorities need to ramp up efforts to protect civilians, and international partners should increase support humanitarian assistance.
Egypt’s New Entry Rules Leave Sudanese in Peril
(written by Lisa Maier)
The Egyptian government has decided that all people from Sudan, including those fleeing the ongoing armed conflict, are now required to obtain visas to enter Egypt. It’s a devastating move.
The new rules have left thousands of civilians, including children, stranded in extreme heat at Egypt-Sudan border crossings.
The government claimed?the change would prevent visa forgery. However, this cannot justify denying or delaying entry to people fleeing Sudan’s devastating conflict.
The UN Refugee Agency has urged all countries to keep borders open to Sudanese needing to escape the rising calamity. Refusing entry to asylum seekers at the border violates the right to seek asylum under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Egyptian government should reverse their decision that’s put thousands at risk.