Mediterranean rescue efforts in focus for Foreign Affairs Committee

International efforts to save lives and deter people-smugglers in the Mediterranean will be the focus of Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence.

Representatives of Médecins Sans Frontières, including staff members who have worked on board the search and rescue vessel Aquarius, are scheduled to begin their presentation at 10 a.m. in Committee Room 1. They are expected to brief the Committee on MSF’s mission and their view of the EU response to the ongoing crisis.

MSF has deployed rescue vessels in international waters north of Libya since 2015. This year the Aquarius, which is operated in conjunction with the aid organisation SOS Méditerranée, has reported rescuing more than 2,800 people from dozens of unseaworthy craft.

“The flow of desperate and vulnerable people from Libya seeking protection in Italy and other European states poses a profound and harrowing humanitarian challenge for the international community,” said Committee Chairman Brendan Smith TD.

“Many hundreds of people have drowned in the Mediterranean over the past month alone.  There is no room for complacency,” he said. “Non-governmental organisations such as MSF which have been active in rescuing people in the Mediterranean have an important experience and perspective to provide the Committee.”

MSF’s presentation can be viewed live here.