Responding to news from MSF and SOS Mediterranée that the Aquarius search and rescue vessel has been forced to end operations, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:
“Today, we received some very sad news. Médecins Sans Frontières and its partner SOS Méditerranée have been forced to terminate operations by the search and rescue ship, Aquarius.
“Over the last two years the Aquarius and her crew have rescued nearly 30,000 people in the Mediterranean. Yet, more than 2,100 people have drowned this year. The vast majority were fleeing violence, torture and arbitrary detention in Libya.
“During this time, not only have European governments failed to provide search and rescue capacity, they have instead supported the Libyan coastguard to return people to Libya, and actively obstructed life-saving activities like Aquarius was carrying out.
“In doing this, European leaders have shown where their true priorities lie: the closure of the central Mediterranean route for refugees and migrants, even at the cost of a soaring death toll at sea.
“Today we salute the Aquarius and her courageous crew. We will continue to stand with them in defiance of cruel and unlawful policies condemning people to die at sea.”