Urgent letter from Mitarachi to the EU - The European Commission should intervene immediately to relocate the 400 migrants who were rescued south of Crete 

Letter from the Minister of Migration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi to the European Commission on the occasion of the search and rescue operation of 400 migrants in the south of Crete

The Minister of Μigration and Asylum, Mr. Notis Mitarachi, sent an urgent letter to the European Commission in order to intervene immediately so that there is practical proof of solidarity with the first receiving countries for the management of the Migration Issue.

On the occasion of the shipwreck south of Crete in which according to reports 400 migrants are involved, Mr. Mitarachi points out to the recipients of the letter Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission and Mrs. Ylva Johansson, Commissioner of Internal Affairs of the EU, that it is not possible for the first host countries in the EU to bear the ever-increasing burden of the migration crisis, which is disproportionate to their capabilities.

As the Minister of Migration and Asylum notes, Greece has repeatedly pointed out the new tactic of smugglers to try to transport migrants to Europe using larger ships, while at the same time has stressed that the EU must act collectively to avoid these operations as they pose endanger human life. Mr Mitarachi points out: “In light of the above, we ask the Commission to immediately undertake and coordinate a relocation initiative in response to this SAR operation, ensuring the responsibility, in saving lives at sea, is fairly shared among Member States.”

As the Minister of Migration and Asylum notesGreece has repeatedly pointed out the new tactic of smugglers to try to transport migrants to Europe using larger ships, while at the same time has stressed that the EU must act collectively to avoid these operations as they pose endanger human life. Mr Mitarachi points out: “In light of the above, we ask the Commission to immediately undertake and coordinate a relocation initiative in response to this SAR operation, ensuring the responsibility, in saving lives at sea, is fairly shared among Member States.”»

The letter from the Minister of Migration and Asylum:

«Dear Margaritis, Dear Ylva, 

I am writing to you in order to bring to your attention a SAR operation which was undertaken by the Hellenic Coast Guard off the south coast of Crete. 

The vessel in question sent a distress signal via the Emergency Communication number 112 today, around at 01:00 am, while approximately 15 nautical miles south of Crete. The vessel, a 30-meter fishing vessel, was sailing on the high seas, within the Greek SAR region. According to the information made available thus far, there are approximately 400 migrants onboard. The vessel was already being monitored by the Coast Guard as it was sailing at an extremely low speed but did not request assistance at first. The distress signal came after the vessel started taking on water. There is no information relating to the flag or the port of origin yet. We will provide further information as soon as it becomes available. 

All passengers are now safe at a port in Crete. 

Greece has repeatedly drawn attention to the new modus operandi of migrant smugglers employing larger vessels and trying to cross to Europe and has stressed the point that we need to collectively act in order to prevent this type of trafficking activity that puts the lives of migrants at risk.  

First reception countries cannot be expected to shoulder an ever-increasing burden out of proportion to their respective capacities. Europe must prove that it is in a position to provide immediate and tangible solidarity, in far speedier timeframes and in higher numbers than the ones we have witnessed thus far. 

In light of the above, we ask the Commission to immediately undertake and coordinate a relocation initiative in response to this SAR operation, ensuring the responsibility, in saving lives at sea, is fairly shared among Member States. 

As has been the case with other SAR operation in the Mediterranean Sea. 

I remain at your disposal.”»

Το κείμενο της επιστολής στα αγγλικά:

“Dear Margaritis, Dear Ylva,

I am writing to you in order to bring to your attention a SAR operation which was undertaken by the Hellenic Coast Guard off the south coast of Crete.

The vessel in question sent a distress signal via the Emergency Communication number 112 today, around at 01:00 am, while approximately 15 nautical miles south of Crete. The vessel, a 30-meter fishing vessel, was sailing on the high seas, within the Greek SAR region. According to the information made available thus far, there are approximately 400 migrants onboard. The vessel was already being monitored by the Coast Guard as it was sailing at an extremely low speed but did not request assistance at first. The distress signal came after the vessel started taking on water. There is no information relating to the flag or the port of origin yet. We will provide further information as soon as it becomes available.

All passengers are now safe at a port in Crete.

Greece has repeatedly drawn attention to the new modus operandi of migrant smugglers employing larger vessels and trying to cross to Europe and has stressed the point that we need to collectively act in order to prevent this type of trafficking activity that puts the lives of migrants at risk.

First reception countries cannot be expected to shoulder an ever-increasing burden out of proportion to their respective capacities. Europe must prove that it is in a position to provide immediate and tangible solidarity, in far speedier timeframes and in higher numbers than the ones we have witnessed thus far.

In light of the above, we ask the Commission to immediately undertake and coordinate a relocation initiative in response to this SAR operation, ensuring the responsibility, in saving lives at sea, is fairly shared among Member States.

As has been the case with other SAR operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

I remain at your disposal.

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