A NEW online platform has been launched, allowing non-governmental organisations and human rights activists to monitor the movement of immigrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean and land in southern Europe.
Watch The Med – which uses satellite mapping and witness interviews to track migrants as they make the perilous crossing over the Mediterranean – was set-up in response to the high number of deaths and reported human rights violations.
The platform focuses on recording what happened to missing migrants, in order to piece together events leading to their disappearance – but the organisers intend to develop it to record real-time events, allowing it to be used as an SOS system for people in danger at sea.
NGOs hope that by collecting witness testimonies, migrants’ rights can be better protected.
One witness, who gave evidence to the site after the deaths of at least 70 Tunisians crossing to Italy, said: “Many of our relatives left for Lampedusa. The boat sank. The rescue team came far too late, even though they sent an SOS. We do not know who has drowned and who has survived.
“The survivors are now in the deportation Prison in Lampedusa. But we do not receive their names. We went into the streets and the government sent the police and allows them to beat us, to throw tear gas grenades at us. Are we animals? Are we dogs, that are constantly kicked about?”
A spokesperson for Watch the Med, said: “Since the beginning of the 90s, thousands of people have tried to reach Europe clandestinely by boat. However, this act of freedom has come at a heavy human cost.
“For on the one-hand the militarisation of the EU’s marine boundaries has forced migrants to resort to dangerous means of crossing, on the other the criminalisation of assistance to them by seafarers has led to repeated failures in the obligation to rescue migrants in distress. Time and time again they are ‘left to die.’”