WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Tuesday after reports emerged of capsized boats in the Mediterranean Sea with approximately 250 refugees feared drowned:
“I am deeply troubled by this tragedy. For years, we have seen men and women, young and old, take to the sea in overcrowded and unseaworthy boats in pursuit of a better life, often with small children by their side. This is a journey only the most desperate families would take. All too often, this dangerous journey ends in heartbreak and suffering.
“This horrific catastrophe is just another reminder that the international community must move aggressively to address the underlying conflicts that are driving the migration crisis. We know that multiplying wars, gross human rights violations, climate change effects, and food and water insecurity are all contributing to millions of people fleeing their homes in search of safety and survival.
“The Trump Administration must commit to working vigorously with our partners to address the forces that are driving millions of people from their homes, and continue to provide humanitarian assistance to help those in the greatest need. If we fail to rise to the challenge, innocent men, women and children will continue to die at sea, and vile and violent human smugglers will continue to profit off their despair.”
According to the International Organization on Migration (IOM), this year’s death toll in the Mediterranean Sea has already reached 1,309 people, and in just a three–day period this week, more than 6,600 refugees were rescued at sea.