Human rights defenders remembered a naval accident that outraged the world on Oct. 3, 2013.
Carrying a banner reading "We are all on the same boat," hundreds of Italian human rights defenders and social activists toured the streets of Lampedusa on Thursday to pay tribute to the memory of 368 refugees and migrants who perished in a shipwreck on Oct. 3, 2013, and all others who have lost their lives during sea crossings.
"The [Italian] National Day of Remembrance and Reception was established by law in 2016 to honor 368 refugees and migrants who died in a shipwreck off Lampedusa," the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recalled.
While the absolute number of people who have died attempting crossings to Europe has dropped sharply since 2013, the UNCHR explained that the number of lives being lost has risen proportionately.
"Earlier this week, we passed the tragic milestone of more than 1,000 people dying at sea in 2019, the majority of those on the route between Libya and Europe. Since 2014, more than 15,000 people have perished on the Central Mediterranean trying to reach safety. "
#Lampedusa: on the very same day of the commemoration of the 3 October 2013 tragedy, 72 #migrants have been saved by the Italian coast guard, in very difficult weather conditions. Among them a girl who survived the bombing of the #Tajoura centre in Libya 3 months ago. https://t.co/5A6sgwjxDD— Flavio Di Giacomo (@fladig) October 3, 2019
On a related event, which took place at the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee, the captain of the Sea Watch rescue vessel Carola Rackete accused the European Union (EU) of violating international law by delegating to the Libyan authorities immigration control work.
During her appearance at said hearing, she invited European countries to build a system that is not focused on "returning" refugees but on "hosting" them.
The German human rights defender, who was arrested for disembarking 40 migrants in Lampedusa in July, said her most frustrating experience was having to explain to people who had been rescued from drowning that they were not authorized to disembark in Italian territory.
She also recalled that she is being judicially investigated "for having saved lives" and publicly claimed her unconcern over accusations, for "it was not an act of provocation, as many wanted to demonstrate, but an act of necessity and responsibility."