Thousands of people took part in demonstrations across Germany on Saturday to show their support for NGOs rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. NGOs have come under increasing political pressure and been blocked from docking in several European countries.
Thousands of people took part in protests in several German cities, including Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, Bremen, Munich and Ulm. Organizers said around 12,000 people marched in the German capital in support of the rescuers.
In recent weeks, several NGO ships operating in the Mediterranean have come under fire by European politicians who have either blocked their entry into harbours or delayed their docking. EU leaders accuse the ships of playing into the hands of human traffickers, while the NGOs argue that many people would die if their ships were not allowed to operate.
Many of the protesters also urged for safer routes for migrants and refugees as they try to reach Europe. They also called for a rejection of the “Fortress of Europe” mentality of several European leaders who want to clamp down on asylum-seekers moving through Europe’s open borders.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, the number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe is down considerably from previous years. Despite this, it’s been one of the deadliest years in the Mediterranean. Over 1,400 people died or went missing while making the crossing from Africa so far this year.