EU Ombudsman Launches Investigation into Frontex's Role in Mediterranean Shipwreck

FRONTEX

On Wednesday morning, Emily O'Reilly, the EU Ombudsman responsible for investigating maladministration and systemic issues, will launch an investigation into the role of EU border agency Frontex in one of the deadliest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea. The focus of the investigation will be Frontex's involvement in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, specifically examining the events surrounding the Adriana shipwreck off the coast of Greece in June, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of migrants.

Conflicting reports emerged after the sinking of the Adriana regarding Frontex's knowledge prior to the tragedy and its potential role in preventing it. The Ombudsman has asked to see Frontex's internal "Serious Incident Report" and is seeking details on how the events unfolded during the crucial hours of the ship's capsizing and sinking.

Greek authorities have also faced scrutiny following allegations from survivors that the local coast guard deliberately steered the overcrowded fishing vessel towards Italy, leading to its capsizing. Reports have shown that the boat was stalled for hours before the coast guard intervened. The tragedy has increased pressure for Frontex to end its operations in Greece due to the country's lack of cooperation.

In addition to Frontex's role in search and rescue operations, the investigation will also examine how information is shared between Frontex and national authorities and whether Frontex has a say in the design of these operations.

Chris Borowski, a senior public relations officer at Frontex, stated that the agency does not coordinate search and rescue operations, as this is the responsibility of national authorities. However, Frontex vessels do participate in search and rescue operations when called upon and provide vital information to national authorities and rescue centers to save lives.

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