Avramopoulos: Everyone shares responsibility for migrant deaths in Mediterranean

Migrants on a Spanish rescue boat
Migrants on a Spanish rescue boat Copyright REUTERS/Jon Nazca
Copyright REUTERS/Jon Nazca
By Euronews
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The EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has told Euronews that authorities on both sides of the Mediterranean must prioritise the saving of migrant lives.


Dramatic scenes in the Mediterranean recorded on Tuesday by the Spanish humanitarian boat Open Arms show a woman and child found dead at sea.

The latest in a series of shipwrecks off the Libyan coast, it's sparking a debate about the capacity of Libya's authorities to rescue migrants, despite funding through the EU's "Sophia" scheme.

The EU's migration commissioner Dimitris Avramapoulos told Euronews that everyone shared responsibility.

"What happened yesterday puts everybody in front of their responsibilities," he said. "We have to keep on working together with Libyan authorities definitely, with Libyan coastguards and training them. But on the other hand all the countries from both sides of the Mediterranean have to put as one of their priorities saving lives."

Some may detect an implicit criticism there of Italy's far right interior minister Matteo Salvini.

In Brussels on Tuesday, protesters gathered outside the Italian embassy calling on Mr Salvini to re-open harbours to rescue boats. He has closed them, arguing they must be returned where they came from.

That includes Libya, where protesters like Nizar Bredan, who is originally from Libya, say it's not safe to send boats back.

"It's truly absurd to say that migrants can be sent back to Libya and to say that it's a safe country for migrants," Mr Bredan told Euronews.

"There's no central authority and everything is left to militias. The victims are citizens like my family who have to be careful that no one is kidnapped."

The protesters are calling for reforms to the European asylum system and a legal way for migrants to reach Europe that would avoid death in the Mediterranean sea.

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