Letter to Immigration Minister about deaths in the Mediterranean

Dear James,

Last year I signed this Early Day Motion (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/400):

That this House is appalled at the loss of 2,500 migrants in the Mediterranean since January 2014; commends all those who have tried to rescue these desperate people, many of whom are victims of war, environmental disaster and civil unrest; is shocked that from 1 November 2014 the Italian sea rescue operation Mare Nostrum will cease and only be replaced by border patrols within 30 miles of the coast; and accordingly calls on the Government to support a proper humanitarian protection operation to help save the lives of these desperate victims of human-created disasters.

I agree that we need to look carefully at the push and pull factors contributing to such disasters, including clamping down on the human traffickers that send so many to their deaths. However, as you will know, the immediate humanitarian situation has progressively worsened and this weekend we got the terrible news that an estimated 800 people are feared dead after a boat bound for Italy from Libya capsized.  This comes on top of an incident last week which saw 400 people drown, whilst reports by refugee organisations indicate deaths have increased 50 fold since the Italian sea rescue was downgraded.

The end of Mare Nostrum has failed to deter migrants and has also left far fewer safeguards in place to rescue those that need help. I would, therefore,  urge you once again to take action to prevent any further needless loss of life by ensuring that the EU immediately backs the restoration of a properly funded search and rescue operation that is up to the task at hand.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,