Under the leadership of the S&Ds, NGOs saving lives of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea were selected as one of three final nominees for the 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The decision comes today after a vote in a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees and the subcommittee on human rights.

These NGOs are: Proactiva Open Arms, SOS Mediterranée, Médecins Sans Frontières International, Sea-Watch, Sea Eye, Jugend Rettet, Lifeline, MOAS, Save the Children, PROEM-AID and Boat Refugee Foundation.

The decision on the final laureate for the 2018 Sakharov Prize will be taken on October 25 by the Conference of Presidents.

“All three candidacies selected today could deserve this recognition by the European Parliament. However, this year the S&D Group is convinced that the Sakharov Prize should go to the NGOs defending human rights and saving lives in the Mediterranean Sea. These NGOs represent the most human face of migration. Where many EU governments failed, NGOs stepped up and have become an essential provider for search and rescue (SAR) missions around the Mediterranean Sea. More than 110,000 lives were saved by them since 2015. Over 40% of all rescue missions, only in 2018, were operated by them,” said S&D vice-president and spokesperson for the Sakharov Prize, Elena Valenciano.

“Now it’s time to express our solidarity and gratitude for all their courageous actions.  These NGOs saving lives of migrants have experienced pressure, smear campaigns or harassment, to the point that today none of their boats are able to perform much needed SAR activities at the Central Mediterranean route. Last Friday’s shameful attack on the SOS Mediterranée headquarters in Marseille by a dozen extremist militants is another example of the rise of anti-migration movements all around Europe that we need to fight, and for that we need to raise our voices,” she added.