Italy: anger after migrant boat tragedy

Dozens of migrants have died in another tragic boat accident off the southern coast of Italy. According to official reports, 59 dead bodies have been recovered so far, and at least 80 survivors have been rescued. More than 25,000 migrants have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean since 2014. Commentators denounce an attitude of indifference towards these deaths.

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Saving lives is our duty

Sea rescues must no longer be left in private hands, the Wiener Zeitung demands:

“Horror stories like this have been making the headlines with frightening regularity for the past ten years. Just as frustrating is the fact that there are no simple solutions that could change this situation quickly and easily. There are no political majorities in the West in favour of a liberal migration and asylum policy. ... The duty to save lives must not be called into question. States cannot delegate it to private individuals. So there is much to be said for having this work organised by the state and with help from the EU.”

Walter Hämmerle
La Repubblica (IT) /

As if we didn’t know about it

Having passed a law last week making the work of civilian sea rescuers more difficult, Italy’s government bears responsibility for this tragedy, La Repubblica fumes:

“Yesterday’s deaths should at least wake us up and make us fight the inhumanity of decrees against sea rescue that bring shame upon us. As Italians, as human beings who are witnesses to this endless carnage. What more must happen before we feel the need to shout that this is not a natural disaster but the result of foolish decisions? How many more deaths must there be before we can no longer say I knew nothing? ... We know, and very well at that.”

Elena Stancanelli
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Cynical defamation of the rescuers

Oliver Meiler, Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Italy correspondent, is appalled at the way the Italian government criminalises and harasses the sea rescuers:

“The migrants don’t set sail because they know they will be rescued by NGOs, as the right-wing claims. This prospect is at best a lottery, a bet on life. Rather, their urge for a better, more dignified, safer life is so great that it drives them to take to the sea despite the immense dangers. How cynical is it to hinder the handful of helpers who can save them in their hour of need?”

Oliver Meiler