The Marella Discovery is the latest vessel to have found herself undertaking a rescue mission as she sailed close to the Greek mainland over the weekend, reportedly saving 111 migrants including 33 children from their stricken boat which was found in distress some 40 miles off the coast of Greece. It has not yet been confirmed which country the migrants were from or where their boat departed but said that they were taken to the Greek port of Kalamata and two of the boat operators were arrested.
Several times a week boatloads of people, many of them from Africa, attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea for a better life in Europe and more often than not are picked up by rescue ships operated by European charities (and the odd cruise liner). Over the past decade most of the migrants have been taken to Greece, Italy and Spain due to their locations on the coast but a failure by the European Union member states to come up with an agreement on where or how to process the migrants has lead to Italy’s government closing their doors and have banned migrant ships from docking at the country’s ports! Charming.
Although the number of migrants attempting the perilous journey has fallen dramatically from 362,000 in 2016 to 116,000 in 2018, an average of six migrants still die every day in the Mediterranean according to the figures released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Already this year, at least 426 men, women and children have died attempting the crossing according to the French medical charity ‘Doctors Without Borders’ (MSF). The groups’ previous ship Aquarius, discontinued its work in December following hostility from several European governments but they have recently announced they will resume their operation with the Ocean Viking vessel in the coming weeks.
Good on them. If they weren’t out there rescuing the majority of these people who would be? Ok so they take a big risk in taking the journey to start with and they are breaking the law, but how desperate must you be to board your family on to a boat (some of which are little more than a blow up dinghy designed for swimming pools and lakes!) knowing there is a high chance you may not make the journey? It is a huge problem and it would seem certain European countries are getting fed up with taking them in, but whats the solution? It is unthinkable to leave them out there to die, they are no different from you or I.