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Photography: Carmen Lenk

Photography: Carmen Lenk

Visit to Malta

Anyone who refuses people in distress at sea mocks European values

EKD migration expert  Manfred Rekowski visits civilian sea rescue team in Malta

“We must not lose sight of the distress of people fleeing across the Mediterranean from war and hunger,” said Manfred Rekowski, president of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. As chair of the Advisory Commission on Migration and Integration of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), he is leaving on Monday for a three-day trip to Malta. “The deliberate and calculated refusal to rescue people in distress at sea is not only cynical, it makes a mockery of all humanitarian achievements.”

The ships of civilian rescue organisations are currently not permitted to weigh anchor, nor can the reconnaissance plane Moonbird operated by Sea-Watch take off on a aerial reconnaissance flight in the direction of Libya. In Rekowski’s opinion, this is evidence of a policy that responds to the challenges of global migration movements merely by closing borders instead of seeking reasonable solutions.

On his fact-finding tour in Malta from 16 to 18 July 2018 Rekowski will hear about the current situation of civilian sea rescue and gain an impression of the Moonbird’s operations on a short flight. The plane, which is financially supported by the EKD, was involved in saving 20,000 people until it was banned from reconnaissance missions across the Mediterranean.

In this connection, Rekowski points out that rescuing people in distress at sea is a humanitarian obligation under international law. It is outrageous, he says, that the work of civilian helpers is decried and they are called accomplices of the smuggler gangs. Rekowski: “Regardless of why people flee across the sea: if they are in distress on the way they need to be rescued. That is imperative on grounds of humanity, compassion and the Christian values which many in Europe profess.”

Live videos, photos and reports (in German) are posted on the EKD’s Facebook page, the Rhineland Church’s Facebook page and the church president is keeping up his blog (Präsesblog). All channels, including photos, reports and videos are linked or accessible at ekir.de/malta.

ekir.de / EKD Press Office / 16.07.2018