About fifteen French-speaking and Dutch-speaking Amnesty International activists gathered hundreds of signatures on Tuesday evening. This was at the entrance to the concert by the Irish group U2 at the King Badouin Stadium. The activists were demanding better and more numerous rescue operations for those in danger in the Mediterranean Sea. Volunteers distributed badges and stamped temporary tattoos with an effigy of the campaign “I am human.”
The petition, launched on June 22nd, already has more than 10,000 signatures in French-speaking Belgium and several thousand from the Dutch-speaking part of the country. This is according to Ludovic Laus, the spokesman for Amnesty International. It will be sent to the Prime Minister, Charles Michel, to encourage him to ensure that, as a priority, the European Union takes steps to save those in distress.
Philippe Hensmans, the Director of the Belgian section of Amnesty International considers that the European Union “lacks sufficient finances to establish safe and legal means, the only way to reduce the number of migrants and refugees risking their lives in this terrible crossing.” He adds, “Saving lives at sea is our moral and legal duty, as is the assistance and protection of individuals fleeing war-torn countries.”
In 2016, the most deadly year for migrants, more than 4,500 individuals disappeared in the Mediterranean. Amnesty International laments the fact that European authorities chose to reduce the fleet of boats patrolling the sea.
Moreover, the organisation is calling upon the European Union to cease its cooperation with the Libyan authorities. Ludivic Laus explains, “This cooperation is leading to the return to Libya of those intercepted. We know that they have suffered serious violations of their human rights, in particular rape, torture and being taken into slavery.”