Rome/Regensburg. 12 April 2017. This morning, Sea-Eye founder Michael Buschheuer spoke before the Committee for Sea Rescue of the Italian Parliament.
Buschheuer had accepted an invitation by the chairperson, Laura Ravetto (Berlusconi Party). He explained to the parliamentarians why Sea-Eye as a private sea rescue organisation takes on a task off the Libyan coast, which should actually be executed by the European states and their navy units. The Sea-Eye chairman expressed his regrets that in 2014 Italy had terminated the successful “Mare Nostrum” operation, during which more than 150,000 people were saved from drowning.
Buschheuer expressly thanked the Italian coast guard and the migration authorities for their support during the evacuation of refugees and praised the part that Italy plays in the management of the refugee crisis. “Italy can be proud of the work that the MRCC, navy and coast guard are doing on the spot,” he stated before the parliamentarians.
Sea-Eye does not evacuate refugees; the ships are much too small and unsuitable. The transfer to the Italian coast was mostly done by navy and coast guard ships, Buschheuer explained.
Michael Buschheuer also refuted accusations that Sea-Eye and other NGOs were working with the knowledge and support of trafficking gangs. “We exclusively cooperate with the MRCC in Rome,” the Sea-Eye Chief explained. The MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), an institution of the Italian Ministry of Transport, coordinates all rescue operations in the Western Mediterranean.
About half the rescue operations were carried out based on information from the MRCC, while the other half was based on own sightings, he said. Sea-Eye took great care to only operate in international waters. Buschheuer stated that the so-called Libyan coast guard had no interest whatsoever in the survival of the refugees.
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