Rescue vessels of the German NGO Sea-Eye
Rescue vessels of the German NGO Sea-Eye | Photo: Sea-Eye

Turning a blind eye? The rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean

In recent years, the waters of the Mediterranean have become an unmarked grave for a myriad of migrants who drowned during their desperate attempt to reach Europe by boat. Urgent steps are needed to stop this humanitarian crisis. Addressing the root causes, including poverty and civil war, which force or prompt people to attempt the dangerous journey is crucial but time-intensive. In the short term, European governments need to reverse their current policies and either substantially increase their own Search and Rescue (SAR) efforts or facilitate the operations of NGOs engaged in saving people at sea.

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Anti-deportation protest in Göttingen, May 2018
Anti-deportation protest Göttingen, May 2018 | Photo: linksuntengoe | CC BY-SA 2.0

Protesting Deportations: On the Importance of Civil Disobedience

Deportations have always been a contested practice. Conservative and right-wing actors have insisted that carrying out deportations is essential for state sovereignty and application of authority. Simultaneously, by taking to the streets civil society, citizens and asylum seekers alike have practiced resistance against deportations in the form of demonstrations, petitions, blockages or hunger strikes. Their anti-deportation protests either claim the right to stay in general or focus exclusively on an acquainted person – like a neighbor or school mate – who is about to be deported. Protests against deportations are sometimes successful by stopping specific deportations; overall, they are also shaping the discourse.

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