Last night, campaign group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants placed wreaths of life-jacket-orange poppies on the Cenotaph to commemorate the more than 4,200 people who have died in the last year trying to reach Europe. The campaigners marched down Whitehall dressed in black with pink veils to conduct a remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph holding a minute’s silence.
2016 has officially been the deadliest year in the Mediterranean Sea with more than 4,200 people drowning trying to reach Europe. This month alone, more than 250 lives have been lost. Following an increased militarisation of the Mediterranean – including the presence of UK war ships – the death toll is increasing. The proportion of people drowning has risen steeply from 1 out of every 269 people crossing last year, to 1 of every 88 in 2016.
In September, the Foreign Affairs Committee highlighted the links between UK wars abroad – specifically in Libya – and the current crisis in the Mediterranean Sea. The UK has sent several war ships to the Mediterranean to intercept people trying to cross. AT the same time the UK government has stated that it is opposed to rescuing refugees on the basis that it could encourage more people to attempt the crossing.
Sam Smith from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants said: “The past year has been the deadliest ever in the Mediterranean Sea with more than 4,200 refugees already having needlessly lost their lives. This tragedy is directly linked to conflicts that UK armed forces are participating in and that UK companies are fuelling with weapons sales. We can’t let the thousands of dead and missing refugees be forgotten, and we must take every step we can to bring an end this shameful tragedy.”
Alex Jones from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants said: “At this time of remembrance and reflection, we cannot forget those men, women, and children who have died trying to reach safety. We must not let any more people die at our borders. We need safe passage now for people crossing the Mediterranean.”
Photos by: Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants is a queer activist group that takes up the mantle from the 1980’s Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees. The group supports migrants and refugees through fundraising activities and use creative action to disrupt the narrative that pits LGBTQIA+ people against migrants.