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New evidence shows Frontex "quibbled with definitions of distress" to avoid search and rescue
11.4.17
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A report recently published by The Intercept examines Frontex's Operation Triton - introduced as a meagre follow-up to the Italian-led Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean - and suggests that the available evidence shows that the EU border agency has been "deliberately patrolling in the wrong area and quibbling with definitions of distress, meaning that its ships would almost certainly arrive late [to distress calls], if at all." An accompanying article argues that recent claims by officials and politicians that non-profit search-and-rescue operations in and around Libyan waters act as a "pull factor" are overblown.

See: EU: Abandoned at Sea: Europe Keeps Its Rescue Ships Far From the Coast of Libya — Where Thousands of Refugees Have Drowned (The Intercept, link)

"Since 2014, the European Union has deliberately chosen to keep their coast guard patrol boats far from where the shipwrecks happen, a decision detailed in an internal letter obtained by The Intercept and other leaked documents... according to [the letter] the director of operations at Frontex privately told Italian authorities that his ships should not be called on to immediately respond to distress calls from outside their 30-mile patrol area.

...Frontex knew it had to respond to emergency calls. But it was deliberately patrolling in the wrong area and quibbling with definitions of distress, meaning that its ships would almost certainly arrive late, if at all."

And: letter from Klaus Rosler, Director of Frontex Operations Division: Concerns about engagement of Frontex deployed assets in activities outside the operational area (pdf)

See also: New Evidence Undermines EU Report Tying Refugee Rescue Group to Smugglers (The Intercept, link):

"...the idea that nonprofits are directly involved in smuggling people into Europe has swept through conservative media in recent months, fueled by a news report that the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, had “accused charities operating in the Mediterranean of colluding with people smugglers.” The report, which appeared in the Financial Times in December, didn’t name any particular charities, and it quickly started to show holes; within a week, the paper issued a correction and Frontex distanced itself from the accusations.

...The Intercept has obtained a full copy of the Frontex report on which the Financial Times story was based. The report, along with video evidence and interviews with rescue workers who witnessed the incident described in it, further undermines the allegations of collusion. In the report, Frontex does say that people were smuggled to Europe via an NGO ship. But the report provides little evidence for the allegation, and what it does contain is contradicted by the rescue crew."

And: Frontex Triton Analytical Report December 2016 (pdf)

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