Several months after the EU’s migrant rescue mission in the Mediterranean was suspended, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for the operation to be resumed once more. The operation was halted following pushback from Italy.
Since 2015, tens of thousands of migrants were rescued by European naval ships as part of the bloc’s anti-smuggling “Operation Sophia”, which suspended activity earlier this year.
Merkel said in Berlin that it would help with rescuing migrants as well as combating trafficking. Merkel emphasized, however, that fixing the root causes of migration are a top priority, as the issue of migrant rescues “will continue to exist if conditions in Africa do not stabilize.” “It’s not always the poorest and the weakest that come. We are speaking with African countries about what we can do to help. We don’t want to support smugglers and traffickers,” she said.
On Tuesday, Merkel also spoke out in support of sea rescues, calling them “a humanitarian imperative,” according to the newspapers of the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
Italy had been opposed Operation Sophia on the grounds that rescued migrants were almost exclusively brought to Italian ports and threatened to block the mission if the rules weren’t changed. It also challenged other states to take in more arrivals.
Germany had strongly supported the continuation of the naval mission.