“National selfishness prevailed”, regrets Michaël Neuman, director of studies for MSF

“National selfishness has won”, regrets Friday, November 4 on franceinfo Michaël Neuman, director of studies at the think tank for action and humanitarian knowledge (Crash) of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). According to him, three boats “who rescued nearly 1,000 people” in the Mediterranean are still awaiting landing permission. Michaël Neuman calls on European countries to coordinate to distribute “fairly rescued people”. If he condemns the racist remarks of the deputy National Rally Grégoire de Fournas Thursday in the National Assembly, it is not “not surprised” : “It’s been years that xenophobic speeches affect the political class”.

franceinfo: Médecins Sans Frontières also has a boat at sea, the Geo Barents, with 572 people rescued on board. No port has been proposed to you to welcome them?

Michael Neuman: No, no port, despite nine requests made: four to Malta, four to Italy and one to Norway to mediate between these States and the boat. Today there are three boats in the Mediterranean which have rescued nearly 1,000 people and which face the same refusals from Italy and Malta to grant disembarkation permission for these people, some of whom have been at sea for nine days.

“From Monday, we will have problems with the water and food supply.”

Michael Neuman

at franceinfo

Let’s talk about Geo Barents. We have several dozen children on our boat, the youngest is 11 months old. We have three pregnant women. We have people who suffer from sometimes acute physical and psychological problems. And of course, the situation is tense. It is all the more strained as the conditions at sea are going to get tougher and this period of uncertainty is going to be prolonged.

What do you think of the position of the French government?

If we stick to the law, it is clear that the French government is right: the ports which are responsible for it, namely the Italian and Maltese ports, must be open to rescue boats. But it is important that France and the other European countries take their responsibilities for the equitable distribution of the people rescued. In September 2019, following a sequence quite similar to this, a number of voluntary European states signed an agreement in Valletta, Malta, for a distribution of people once disembarked. This agreement today, nobody talks about it anymore. I think it is imperative that European coordination takes place so that these boats can disembark quickly. So that these people who have lived through extremely difficult situations in Libya can be received quickly, in correct conditions and that they have access to the rights recognized by international law.

In your opinion, Europe is not taking its responsibilities sufficiently?

For years, Europe has been stranded on this question on the reefs of a rather abominable deadly policy. National selfishness prevailed. We see it today, each country looks at the navel and seems to have entered into a rather terrifying competition. The declarations of the deputy Rassemblement national in the National Assembly are very, very sad, but we are not surprised. It’s been years that xenophobic speeches affect the political class, that they are condemned. Today, we can actually be very shocked by these statements. But Emmanuel Macron accused non-governmental sea rescue organizations of complicity with smugglers not so long ago. I think it is the responsibility of our governments to ensure that discussions on immigration are more peaceful than they are today.

source site-25