Europe’s “Let Them Die” Policy, One Month after Mass Drowning, Daily Brief July 14, 2023

Daily Brief July 14, 2023.


It’s been a month since the horrific mass drowning off the coast of Greece in which some 650 people lost their lives. The world has learned much about the disaster since.

The last four weeks have brought at least three investigations damning the Greek coastguard’s botched response to the overcrowded vessel, highlighting their earlier failure to respond, and suggesting a possible cover-up of evidence.

There are still many questions to answer, of course, and HRW will publish our own investigation in time.

But one thing is clear: this horror was avoidable. Like thousands of other drownings on Europe’s frontiers – individually, in their dozens, and in their hundreds – last month’s was the predictable result of policy choices the European Union and member states have made.

The EU and its members decided to cut proactive search and rescue at sea. They obstruct search-and-rescue operations of private groups. And they even criminalize rescue workers and persecute those who dare to remind people that migrants and asylum seekers are human beings with rights like the rest of us.

The policy of EU and member state “leaders” can be summed up in three words: let them die.  

An awful part of this moral bankruptcy is the crocodile tears from European politicians every time there’s a major disaster like the one last month. (Politicians simply ignore lower death counts, of course.)

They make a show of railing against the human traffickers – i.e., the people the politicians themselves have enriched by not offering safe channels for asylum and legal migration. And EU politicians insincerely lament what an awful thing has happened, pretending they aren’t fully aware their policies were integral to the mass drowning.

Because make no mistake: they are fully aware. Everyone knows full well that if you cut, obstruct, and criminalize search-and-rescue operations at sea, that means more people are going to drown.

They know they could save those lives they make an act of crying over. They simply choose not to.