What prevents inhumanity

Nobody can be surprised now. It was only a matter of weeks that another tragedy would break out in the Mediterranean with hundreds of deaths. It was only two months since the last sinking of a refugee boat with a similar number of victims, and in the meantime those who want to escape to Europe from war, persecution or material need have never stopped dying.

But if there are only a few, hardly anyone takes any notice. It has become too used to the fact that the beautiful Mediterranean, which many Europeans associate with the joy of holidays, becomes a grave for the less fortunate. For 3500 people, their flight ended in its floods last year. There are at least 800 this year, and the main season for boat escapes is only just beginning.

It is shameful for everyone that EU Europe did not react at the latest after the catastrophe in February and that the few ships of the joint Frontex Triton mission were supported by a fleet with a humanitarian mandate.

As it has done for years, Italy's coast guard is relentlessly rescuing people from the miserable boats on which professional people smugglers hand them over to the sea. And the Frontex people, whose job is actually to guard the border, are constantly on rescue missions. But this effort is not enough.

No other option

Last year there were almost 220,000 people who came across the Mediterranean, experts expect significantly more this year. 10,000 people were rescued within a few days. The escapes across the water have to do with the war in Syria; the crises in Africa and the fact that Libya is out of control; that stricter border regimes at land borders leave the Syrians in particular no other options.

The line of the EU and Germany is that cooperation with the countries of origin and transit should change the situation in such a way that at least those who do not have a chance of asylum do not even go on the dangerous journeys and not to the billions of business of the increasingly brutal smugglers contribute. It is right to try to put an end to the reasons for fleeing. Europe cannot accept everyone and the countries of origin are now often losing precisely those who are most needed there - the more educated, those who want to get something going.

But who do you want to negotiate with at the moment? With IS in Iraq? With the dictator of Eritrea? With the warring parties in Syria? With whom in Libya, the hub of the refugee flows, as long as there is civil war-like chaos? Plans are also being considered to set up reception centers on the other side of the Mediterranean.

But apart from the fact that politically reliable partners are also required for this - it is unlikely that someone who has crossed the Sahara, sent off with the hopes and the money saved or borrowed from entire extended families, will turn back on the shores of the Mediterranean a reception center is told that their chances of asylum are poor.

Mare Nostrum - an incentive for people smugglers?

It was this argument, not least of the German interior minister Thomas de Maizière, that was supposed to end the sea rescue operation Mare Nostrum of the Italians: because it had become an incentive for people smugglers and refugees. Might be.

But the fact that the subsequent EU border protection mission Triton on the Mediterranean would have a deterrent effect is a mockery of all the figures. And in the year in which Italy's navy carried out Operation Mare Nostrum with the coast guard, there was no great shipwreck with hundreds of refugees dead.

"It is a topic that is complex," it says with a coolness that can hardly be surpassed after the recent accident at the Berlin Ministry of the Interior. Indeed, there are no simple solutions to the reasons that drive people to flight, none of which can be quickly changed. But a European rescue fleet, like the one Italy had set up with Mare Nostrum, could be dispatched quickly - if you only want to and if you are serious about Europe's values.

Regular asylum procedures decide whether the people who have been dragged from the sea are allowed to stay in Europe. But not doing everything to prevent refugees from drowning on Europe's shores would mean letting inhumanity decide.