German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out in favor of resuming state-organized sea rescue operations for refugees in the Mediterranean on Thursday evening in Berlin.
“Surely it would be good if we had a mission Sophia again today and state ships that would rescue”, Merkel said at the formal good-bye event for Germany’s former defense minister and European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen.
Tens of thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean have been rescued since 2015 as part of the European sea rescue mission Sophia.
Following resistance from Italy, the naval operation was stopped a few months ago although Germany had advocated a continuation of the sea rescue operation.
Merkel also stressed that sea rescue was just as necessary as the fight against traffickers who illegally bring migrants to Europe.
Shortly after being elected president of the European Commission, von der Leyen had also stated that she was committed to “hunt down traffickers and smugglers who endanger refugees in order to make huge profits”.