Germans protest in support of migrant rescues in the Mediterranean
Thousands of people took part in demonstrations across Germany to show their support for NGOs rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea. NGOs have come under increasing political pressure and been blocked from docking.
Thousands march for migrant rescuers
Protesters in Berlin hold up life jackets while taking part in a protest against the criminalization of migrant and refugee rescue operations run by NGOs. Thousands of people took part in protests in several German cities on Saturday, including Berlin, Hamburg, Hanover, Bremen, Munich and Ulm. Organizers said around 12,000 people marched in the German capital in support of the rescuers.
Solidarity with rescuers
A protester with the activist alliance Seebrücke hangs orange clothing during a protest in Hamburg to show solidarity with sea rescue workers. The sign below reads: "Sea rescue is not a crime!" Seebrücke — which means pier, or literally "sea bridge" — was formed after the German NGO ship Lifeline was prevented from docking in several harbors after rescuing over 200 migrants.
One of the deadliest years for crossings
A protester in Berlin holds up a sign reading: "Don't forget them at sea." According to the United Nations refugee agency, the number of people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe is down considerably from previous years. Despite this, it's been one of the deadliest years in the Mediterranean. Over 1,400 people died or went missing while making the crossing from Africa so far this year.
'Open the harbors'
In recent weeks, several NGO ships operating in the Mediterranean have come under fire by European politicians who have either blocked their entry into harbors or delayed their docking. EU leaders accuse the ships of playing into the hands of human traffickers, while the NGOs argue that many people would die if their ships were not allowed to operate.
Anger over German government policies
A man carries a sign reading: "Seebrücke instead of Seehofer" — a reference to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer's hard-line stance on migration and his repeated threats to unilaterally tighten Germany's borders. Seehofer's power struggle with Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened to topple the government last week, before they reached a compromise that took on some of Seehofer's demands.
Urging an end to the 'Fortress Europe' mentality
Many of the protesters also urged for safer routes for migrants and refugees as they try to reach Europe. They also called for a rejection of the "Fortress of Europe" mentality of several European leaders who want to clamp down on asylum-seekers moving through Europe's open borders.