4 Search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean
We receive minute 14/129 of Sussex West AM held on 8 November, regarding the announcement that the British Government will not support planned EU search and rescue operations to save migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea as they try to reach Europe.
We note that the Deputy Recording Clerk has signed a letter to David Cameron, calling on the Government to work with the rest of Europe to ensure that no asylum seekers are left to drown in the Mediterranean and to organise safe routes for these people to find shelter and security.
We forward this minute to QPSW for advice.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) announced today that they will launch a joint search, rescue and medical aid operation in the central Mediterranean between Africa and Europe. The life-saving operation will run from May to October, when thousands of people are expected to risk their lives attempting to reach safe haven in Europe.
Last year was the deadliest on record for people crossing the Mediterranean; more than 3,400 people died trying to reach Europe. This year the death toll is predicted to be even higher, as even less assistance is available to boats in distress. The Italian navy’s search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, was discontinued in November 2014 due to a lack of funding from European governments and has not been replaced. Read more
Destitution We receive the following minutes from Area Meetings: South East London AM minute 14/102; Pendle Hill AM minute 10; Leeds AM minute AM14/109; North East Thames AM minute 15/36; Leicester AM minute 15/32; South Wales AM minute 14:12:07; and Oxford and Swindon AM minute 16/2015c. These minutes bring to our attention a statement made by Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network about the use of destitution as an instrument of immigration control.
Sheila Moseley of Quaker Asylum and Refugee Network has spoken to the concern. Many Friends are deeply troubled by the situation and we have heard of the work that Friends are doing locally, both as Meetings and as individuals. Many are working with local asylum and refugee groups, the Red Cross and the City of Sanctuary movement.
This is not an issue that is going to go away quickly, and we feel it would be useful to develop a public statement that we can use in working with national and local governments.
We forward this minute to QPSW Central Committee and ask them to bring a draft back to a future meeting.
Deputy Recording Clerk
Italian police say they have arrested 15 Muslim migrants after they allegedly threw 12 Christians overboard following a row on a boat heading to Italy. Read more
Background: There is a widespread perception that destitution is increasing sharply in the UK. Media attention devoted to the prevalence of extreme hardship, and to the increased use of food banks in particular, is indicative of increasing public concern. Prominent public figures have made connections between destitution and government policies on immigration and asylum, welfare reform, homelessness, and exploitation and forced labour. Yet quantitative evidence on the causes, scale, trends and distribution of destitution in the UK is difficult to come by, as is data on the characteristics of those affected and the impact that this experience has on them. Read more
For centuries Britain has been outstanding in offering protection to people fleeing persecution. Many of them have done much to create this country’s reputation for fairness and justice and have contributed to the well-being of the nation. That reputation still draws to the United Kingdom people experiencing political and religious discrimination, torture, rape and other trauma in their countries of origin. Read more
To the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, We call on you urgently to reinstate a comprehensive search and rescue operation for migrants in the Mediterranean and to ensure that the treatment of all migrants is based on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
‘We detain a lot of people, some for a very long time, all with huge uncertainty, and we have very limited processes for individuals to challenge that detention’.
‘Crucially, this panel believes that little will change by tinkering with the pastoral care or improving the facilities. We believe the problems that beset our immigration detention estate occur quite simply because we detain far too many people unnecessarily and for far too long. The current system is expensive, ineffective and unjust.’ Read more