Experts condemn move to aerial surveillance as an abrogation of ‘responsibility to save lives’
Amid the panicked shouting from the water and the smell of petrol from the sinking dinghy, the noise of an approaching engine briefly raises hope. Dozens of people fighting for their lives in the Mediterranean use their remaining energy to wave frantically for help. Nearly 2,000 miles away in the Polish capital, Warsaw, a drone operator watches their final moments via a live transmission. There is no ship to answer the SOS, just an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the European border and coast guard agency, Frontex.
This is not a scene from some nightmarish future on Europe’s maritime borders but a present-day probability. Frontex has invested £95m of EU money in pilotless aerial vehicles, the Observer
has learned. This spending has come as the EU pulls back its naval missions in the Mediterranean and harasses almost all search-and-rescue charity boats out of the water. Frontex’s surveillance drones are flying over waters off Libya where not a single rescue has been carried out by the main EU naval mission since last August, in what is the deadliest stretch of water in the world.
Acting to extradite helpless civilians to the hands of Libyan militias may amount to criminal liabilityOnce migrants on Mediterranean were saved by naval patrols. Now they have to watch as drones fly over
Experts condemn move to aerial surveillance as an abrogation of ‘responsibility to save lives’www.theguardian.com