Some of the rescued migrants, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana, on board the Sea-Watch 3 rescue ship in June 2019. The Sea-Watch 3 rescued more than 40 migrants drifting in an inflatable dinghy off the coast of Libya on 13 June 2019 but no country in Europe would allow the migrants to disembark at their port, leading the ship’s captain Carola Rackete to dock without permission in Lampedusa, Italy, at the weekend of 28-29 June 2019 as the situation on the vessel became unbearable for the inmates / Photo:

“EU wants migrants to drown,” says German humanitarian activist Carola Rackete

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.

Carola Rackete, the 32-year-old German captain of the migrant rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3. Her arrest in June last year sparked global protest against the criminalisation of savers of those in distress. she was later released on bail /Photo: Screenshot/© Sea-Watch


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


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