Amnesty International puts 200 body bags on Brighton beach in EU migrant disaster protest

'It is not happening here, but it is happening now' say campaigners

Rose Troup Buchanan
Thursday 23 April 2015 00:50 BST
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Brighton beach was covered in 200 body bags as Amnesty International volunteers raised awareness of the plight of thousands of migrants ahead of emergency EU talks tomorrow.

Local Amnesty members and volunteers zipped themselves into some of the body bags at around 10am, alongside a banner saying #DontLetThemDrown.

Campaigners hope the protest, organised ahead of an EU meeting on the mounting death toll in the Mediterranean seas, will highlight the UK’s “shameful” response to the crisis.

“It is quite a dramatic choice for us,” Amnesty spokesperson Harriet Garland said.

“A lot of the stunts that Amnesty International is about highlight that it is not happening here, but it is happening now - and this latest stunt is part of our new campaign: Don’t Let Them Drown,” she told The Independent.

“Our big push is to try and get Cameron to reinstate the search and rescue operations,” Ms Garland continued.

The Mare Nostrum search and rescue programme ended last year after EU members refused to continue funding the £6.5million monthly Italian-led mission. It was replaced by the smaller Triton operation.

Last week, the plight of migrants again caught public attention after an estimated 800 people from Africa and the Middle East died off the Libyan coast over the weekend.

It was a “wake up call for Europe,” Ms Garland said.

“But it is not new and it’s something that Amnesty has been talking about for years but with the latest news has caused people to reach their tipping point.”

Over the last year 3,000 migrants died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

Analysts predict that figure could spiral out of control if the problem is not addressed. Some figures estimate as many as 30,000 migrants – including 2,500 children – may die attempting to cross the seas to Europe in the coming year.

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