A European Parliament resolution that called for measures that could save the lives of thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean has been defeated by the slimmest of margins.

Just three more votes would have made a difference in work to tackle the appalling death toll in the Mediterranean. However, with 290 votes against versus 288 in favour, the right blocked support for proactive Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

More than 1,000 women, men and children have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year alone, according to Oxfam.

Key points supported by Left MEPs and other progressive groups included a call for member states to open their main ports to NGO vessels, and to stop these organisations from being criminalised by local law enforcement for saving lives.

It also demanded that people rescued in the Mediterranean would disembark in a safe place – not a third country with a dire human rights record like Libya.

Crucially, it called on the European Commission to review cooperation with Libya and to suspend cooperation until clear human rights guarantees

In addition, the workings of The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, would have been made more transparent. EU assets would also have been made to transmit information to vessels close to distressed cases.

Commenting on the vote, Miguel Urbán (Podemos, Spain) said:

“The votes of the European People’s Party and the far right prevented the resolution on search and rescue in the Mediterranean from being approved in the European Parliament.

“May it be clear: their vote against is a vote for continuing to make the Mediterranean the largest mass grave in Europe.”

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