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Refugee helpers demand safe havens in Europe

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In a dramatic appeal, an alliance of refugee organizations is calling for EU countries to bring people rescued in the Mediterranean immediately to Europe and to better support private maritime rescuers. Moreover, the EU should no longer tolerate survivors being taken back to the crisis country by the Libyan Coast Guard, where they face torture and slavery.

Signatories include SOS Mediterranee, MSF and Oxfam. They criticize that some governments – Italy, among others – may raise „unsubstantiated allegations“ against private helper ships and prevent them from leaving their ports. During the past year, five organizations searched the Mediterranean for ships in distress at this time, but today it is only one.

Commenting on the meeting of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Bucharest on 7 February, the organizations said: „Countries should allow all vessels carrying out search and rescue operations to establish in their ports to rescue rescued persons and get rid of it quickly. „