European leaders must agree to step up search and rescue operations immediately to prevent the tragic loss of lives in the Mediterranean Sea.
That's the message from Claude Moraes MEP, the Labour politician who chairs the influential Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.
The call comes after the announcement of plans for an extraordinary European Council summit of national leaders from all 28 EU countries on Thursday.
Claude Moraes MEP said: "The ongoing tragedies in the Mediterranean show that the decision to end Mare Nostrum has been disastrous. There is much to be discussed at this summit, including how we crack down on the criminals who are running these human trafficking operations. But right now lives are being lost on an unprecedented scale. It is essential that Member States react swiftly by implementing a comprehensive search and rescue operation across the Mediterranean.
"Europe has a moral duty to save lives at sea; we must refrain from being passive in response to the situation in the Mediterranean, or countless lives will be lost as a result of EU inaction."