Carola Rackete, 32, is a ship captain who works for the German sea rescue organisation Sea-Watch. She gained international fame in June 2019, when as captain of Sea-Watch 3, she rescued a total of 53 migrants in distress from the Mediterranean Sea. And after weeks of waiting for approval despite a ban by Italian authorities, she piloted the rescue ship to the port of Lampedusa Island on the night of 29 June. A year after she was arrested for bringing 53 rescued migrants ashore in Italy without permission, Rackete, who has meanwhile been released on bail, says nothing has fundamentally changed for migrants crossing the Mediterranean. The German activist also endorsed a campaign against the EU border agency Frontex. Marion MacGregor reports
A year ago this week, the German captain of the civil rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3, Carola Rackete, ignored orders from then Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and entered the port of Lampedusa with 53 migrants on board.
In a statement marking the anniversary of the confrontation on Monday, Rackete said that despite a new coalition government in power in Italy, the situation regarding migrant crossings had not improved.
The German captain referred to an incident in April in which shipwrecked migrants were left adrift in the Maltese rescue zone and then illegally returned to Libya.
She accused “different European states, including Spain, Malta, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany,” of “continu(ing) to hinder rescue and monitoring missions at sea and in the air.”
According to Rackete, people are drowning in the Mediterranean “because the European Union wants them to drown, to scare those who might attempt to cross. They drown because Europe denies them access to any safe routes and leaves them no options other than to risk their lives at sea.”
The activist also accused the EU border agency Frontex of being the enforcer of “the racist border policy of European states. We have to tear down Fortress Europe, created to let the poor die off the Mediterranean shores where no one sees them,” she said.
“If #BlackLivesMatter in the US demands to defund the police departments, we consequently have to demand to #DefundFrontex in Europe,” Rackete said, backing a twitter campaign.
A Frontex spokesperson referred to the #DefundFrontex hashtag as “nonsense from fringe groups” and maintained that the border agency was helping to “secure the borders for hundreds of millions of people throughout Europe.”
“Respect for human rights is at the heart of all we do,” the spokesperson said.
With dpa/© InfoMigrant