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A sea rescue, Source: Aude-Andre Saturnio on Unsplash

France: 28 communities call for support of migrant rescue operations

France: 28 communities call for support of migrant rescue operations

Representatives, including the Mayor of Paris, will provide aid to a migrant rescue association SOS Méditerranée

Twenty-eight French public authorities launched an appeal for the unconditionality of sea rescue. Published on 21 January, it calls for increased support for SOS Méditerranée, a European Association for Rescue in the Mediterranean Sea.

The signatories, including the mayors of Paris and other large cities, opened a solidarity platform and committed to providing financial aid to the organisation.

Anyone can join the migrant saving actions

Since 2016, SOS MEDITERRANEE has rescued 31,799 people in distress on the world's deadliest migratory route, the central Mediterranean, according to their website. Last year the association received growing support from French local authorities, affirming the unconditionality of rescue at sea.

In early 2021, upon the initiative of the Loire-Atlantique Department, the City of Paris and the Occitanie Region, 28 French communities have set up "Platform of the communities solidary with SOS MEDITERRANEE", reads a press release on the website of the association. These participating authorities will provide essential financial support and will facilitate citizen-led actions in their territories.

They are also calling on other authorities to support the three missions pursued by the SOS Méditerranée: helping people in distress at sea, protecting survivors and testify. The full text of the call was published on francetvinfo.fr (in French).

The platform is non-partisan and can be joined by any municipality, inter-municipal authority, department or region willing to get involved in the support of migrants. The current signatories include the Mayors of Paris, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lille, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Rennes. Individuals can also make an online donation.

Every day, children, women and men leave their countries in the hope of a better life. Too many tragically perish at sea.

For those who arrive in our territory, they are forced to wander, desperately waiting to be taken care of. I refuse to close my eyes to this intolerable reality. True to its motto, Fluctuat nec mergitur [meaning that Paris might be tossed by the waves, but does not sink, ed.], Paris has supported SOS MEDITERRANEE since its creation in 2015.

Today, through our membership in the solidarity communities’ platform, we are reaffirming our identity as a city of refuge. At sea and on land, we must collectively build a response to the challenge posed by welcoming refugees in France and in Europe, while respecting human rights and the values of our Republic.”, the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo was quoted saying.

The Association was established in France and Germany in 2015, in 2016 in Italy and in 2017 in Switzerland. According to their website, the number of volunteers in France amounts to 600, while each day of rescue operations at sea, costs 14,000 euros. Most of the funding has been coming from private donations so far, but this could change if the call is embraced by more political entities.

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