The Government withdraws two rescue boats, HMC Protector and HMC Seeker, the UK’s last two boats involved in proactive search and rescue missions. Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, said the charity was “extremely concerned” by the withdrawal. He said it would reduce capacity Europe to save lives “at a time when rescue missions are most needed”.
The UK seeks to be more active in EUNAVFOR MED, a policing mission rather than a rescue. Smugglers’ vessels will be boarded, searched, seized and diverted. Frigate HMS Richmond and survey ship HMS Enterprise have deployed as part of a multinational fleet to combat people smugglers who are trafficking refugees and migrants into Europe. The fleet of European warships to nine or 10 vessels in coming weeks and started operations on Oct. 7.
Mr Forsyth criticised the shift in focus away from rescue operations.
“Since Europe decided to restart the rescue in April, thousands of lives were saved - not least by Britain’s own Royal Navy,” he said. “We are facing the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War, a defining moment in our generation, and must ensure that our response efforts are equal to the task. The priority must remain stopping people from drowning, not border control.”