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ESRC Precarious Trajectories project

Posted on 19 April 2016

Launch of death by rescue report

Simon Parker image

Precarious Trajectories project director Dr Simon Parker, of the Politics Department at the the University of York commented: 

“This report is highly significant because it provides incontrovertible evidence from within the EU’s own border agency that the deliberate scaling down of search and rescue operations in 2014/1015 would lead to a significant increase in loss of lives at sea.” 

“The Frontex prediction proved accurate with a 30-fold increase in deaths at sea occurring in the first 4 months of 2015 including the shipwreck of 18 April resulting in the loss of over 800 lives”. 

“In the context of the EU-Turkey anti-migration deal that has effectively closed off the Aegean/Balkan refugee route, we are already starting to see significant numbers of refugees and migrants attempting the even more dangerous central Mediterranean crossing. It is therefore imperative that Italy and other EU member states maintain a fully operational search and rescue capacity near to the Libyan coast or many more innocent lives will be lost at sea. While the only sure to way prevent further deaths is to provide for safe and legal passage to those seeking sanctuary in Europe from war and conflict."

The full report is available on and the project website at