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Spain's migration agreements with Morocco have grave consequences for Mediterranean shipwrecks, warn trade union and human rights group
20.3.19
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Translation of a press release published by APDHA on 16 March 2019 (link)
Andalusia, 16 March 2019 - The General Work Confederation (Confederación General del Trabajo, CGT) and the Andalusian Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro-derechos Humanos de Andalucía, APDHA) have said in a press conference that the consequences of the recent agreements between Spain and Morocco on migration will have serious consequences for the human beings risking their lives in the Mediterranean.

In this respect, CGT and APDHA refer to the 45 people who died after after Morocco took on the coordination of a rescue operation involving a dinghy in the Alboran Sea on Wednesday 13 March. On the evening of the 13 March, a Helimer 203 helicopter took part in the rescue attempt without success, followed on the morning of the Thursday by a Condor IV plane operated by Frontex. 67 people were aboard the vessels and we discovered just a few hours ago that 45 of them have died.

In the face of these unnecessary deaths, various social collectives and organisations have been warning of this possibility, both the CGT and APDHA consider that Spanish government's decision to hand over duty for rescues to the Moroccan authorities is an enormous irresponsibility. Those authorities do not have human or material resources or adequate protocols in place and their crews lack suitable experience and preparation for highly delicate and difficult tasks in which both rescuers and the shipwrecked face serious dangers.

GCT and APDHA highlight that the bilateral agreements between Spain and Morocco have the backing and the supervision of the European Union, and the organisations suspect that once those agreements have been reached it is Morocco that will be responsible for carrying out and coordinating the majority of rescue operations in the Alboran Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. It is for this reason that 'Fortress Europe' has bestowed upon Morocco two boats, very similar to the rapid intervention launches used by Salvamento Marítimo (the Spanish sea rescue service), and has promised to endow the country with further equipment and items. Furthermore, the Spanish state will be responsible for training members of the Moroccan military in sea rescue operations.

CGT and APDHA have already made clear on numerous occasions that Salvamento Marítimo is a far-better qualified service to carry out these tasks, as a civil public entity with more than 25 years of experience whose professionals have converted the service into a world-recognised reference point as the best-prepared and most-esteemed rescue service in Europe. However, the public administration is trying to limit its important work in the struggle against pollution and the safeguarding of human life at sea with cuts to its human and material resources and the imposition of working conditions that are incompatible with the safety of its teams and auxiliary staff.

CGT and APDHA insist that Morocco is not prepared, either politically or materially, to efficiently take up rescues of human beings in the Mediterranean and the latest shipwreck in the Alboran Sea shows that deaths at sea will skyrocket to unforeseen figures at the southern border if rescue policies do not return to having the saving of lives as their sole objective.

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