MSF: Reaction to FRONTEX new accusations on NGOs and search and rescue

Aurelie Ponthieu expresses MSF's position:

“It is very disturbing that we hear accusations about NGOs encouraging smugglers via the media when FRONTEX will not meet with us. We have asked for a meeting to respond to these criticisms but to date there is no reply. Such criticism is shocking given what is implies.  Is Leggeri suggesting that we move even further from the area where people are most at risk of drowning just to make smuggling more difficult? Should we just let them die?”

“We do not share FRONTEX’s mandate, we are not border police or anti-smuggling operatives; we are doctors and nurses and we are at sea purely to save lives. Working as close as possible to the Libyan territorial waters is the only way currently possible to mitigate the high risk of death on the Mediterranean - the less time people spend on an overcrowded boat, the less chance there is that they will die.

Rather than continuing with these damaging and unfounded attacks on NGOs, FRONTEX should “re-evaluate” their current operation and consider their own role in the horror we see every day on the Mediterranean. Smugglers will always adapt to what is thrown at them and until people have a safe way out of Libya, they will continue to drown.”

Aurelie Ponthieu - Humanitarian Specialist on Displacement carries MSF's voice


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Etienne Lhermitte Communication Coordinator, Médecins Sans Frontières/ Ärzte Ohne Grenzen (MSF)
Etienne Lhermitte Communication Coordinator, Médecins Sans Frontières/ Ärzte Ohne Grenzen (MSF)
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MSF Switzerland
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a worldwide movement of current and former field staff, grouped into national and regional associations. Collectively, they make sure that MSF stays true to its mission and principles.

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Currently, there are 24 associations. All are independent legal entities, and each elects its own board of directors and president. Most associations have an executive office that raises funds and recruits staff for MSF’s operations.