ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Migration : quatre mesures immédiates que l’UE pourrait prendre
by Émilien Urbach
Translated Monday 1 June 2015, by
In the face of the deadly catastrophe in the Mediterranean, NGOs and left-wing parliamentarians defend solutions for welcoming refugees. This is in total opposition to the European leaders who think only of reinforcing border controls.
The catastrophes are becoming a daily occurrence. Yesterday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) received distress calls from two vessels carrying 450 people. The coast guards "did not have the means to rescue them", explained the IOM, because they were still mobilised on a shipwreck from the day before. The grim result of the shipwreck this weekend increased from 700 to 950 drowning deaths, according to the Public Prosecutor’s office in Catania, Sicily. The shock is such that yesterday, in the early afternoon, the European Union (EU) convened a meeting of Internal and Foreign Affairs Ministers. Furthermore, in the Aegean Sea, three migrants perished during a shipwreck of a sailboat carrying 80 people. The EU is no longer facing a fatality; rather, according to several NGOs and European parliamentarians on the left, it is confronted with the results of repressive immigration policies. Solutions exist, however, for Europe to finally end its policy of failure to assist persons in danger.
Over the last 10 days, at least 1,350 migrants died by drowning at the doors of the European fortress. “We no longer have an alibi”, stated the Head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, yesterday, at the extraordinary meeting with Union Ministers of Internal and Foreign Affairs. “Immediate measures are needed on the part of the European Union and Member States.” But in the face of such a tragedy, following the urgent meeting, the European Ministers of Internal and Foreign Affairs decided (see sidebar) to reinforce the measures entrusted to the Frontex agency responsible for European border control since 2004. They still refuse to take responsibility, singling out the smugglers, whom François Hollande labeled as “terrorists” on Sunday. Definitive and immediate steps could otherwise be taken before embarking upon radical changes to migration policies.
1. Create a coalition of countries ready do something for the migrants
In November 2014, Italy just abandoned its “Mare Nostrum” rescue operation. Member states of the EU then substituted it for “Triton”, led by Frontex, whose mandate is largely repressive. Its budget is 3 million Euros monthly, some three times more than that which the Italians earmark solely for rescue missions. “This is inexcusable, protested Malin Bjork, member of the European parliament from the Swedish Left Party. The States can no longer hide themselves behind the twenty seven others. If they all are not ready to put in place a new “Mare Nostrum”, then those who are will take action. People are dying. Lives must be saved.” For the parliamentarian, members of the European United Left, Greece, Spain and Italy cannot solely take in the constant flux of refugees fleeing armed conflict. She added: “There are European countries, in which the extreme right forms the government. We cannot wait until the twenty eight Member States are ready to change their migration policies. If one more boat sinks, this will be due to the lack of political courage.”
2. Apply the Circular on temporary protection
In case of a massive influx of displaced persons, a Circular adopted by the EU dated July 20, 2001, allows for the activation of an immediate protection mechanism and access to financial resources from the European Refugee Fund. “With the European Council’s approval, the EU can immediately choose to apply this directive, as suggested by Olivier Clochard, researcher at CNRS, specialist in human migrations and president of the Migreurop Network. Though this directive, the Border States can put temporary reception centres in place to facilitate access to asylum seekers without being constrained by the Dublin regulation.” For this geographer, the Member States already have an arsenal of texts that they are not applying because they are confronted by the rise of the extreme right nationally.
3. Suspend the Dublin regulation 3
The Dublin regulation 3 requires States to refuse asylum to all seekers who have previously registered in the first European country crossed through. Besides creating unwarranted personal situations, when the migrant finds him/herself without rights or title within a European country, this legislation pushes countries having external land borders to put unsurmountable barriers in place. Thus, Bulgaria has equipped itself with a high-tech wall, financed in the framework of the Eurosur system. These barriers drive migrants to take maritime routes, with the current consequences.
4. Establish actual rescue and welcome plans
“The means granted to systems like Frontex, Eurosur or Closeye are given to private enterprises such as Thales”, reports Olivier Clochard. “Six million euros were given by the EU to EADS in order to control the Romanian borders. Furthermore, at Migreurop, we figure the cost of each extension of the border to be 27,000 Euros. All this money could go to actual welcome policies.” Migreurop’s president points out the relentless criticism by the Rights of the “cost” of asylum. “But we were to facilitate the refugees’ right to access work, this would allow for the move away from handouts.” “It’s a question of priority,” adds Malin Bjork. “For the moment, Europe choses to militarize its borders; while all this money could be redirected to maritime rescues.” But the head of Frontex, Fabrice Legeri, conceded yesterday, on France Inter, that the EU never had “expertise for sea rescue operations”… And Loris De Filippi, president of Doctors Without Borders in Italy adds that, “The policies implemented by the EU are turning the Mediterranean into a mass grave.”
An explosion in refugees Between 500 and 1,000 people are rescued each day by Italian ships. According to the High Commission for Refugees, 200,000 people have attempted to cross the Mediterranean to escape wars in 2014. This is three times more than in 2011.
1,600 This is the number of migrants missing in the Mediterranean Sea since January 1st. 3,400 migrants have died in 2014, the equivalent to two Titanics.
They flee war “Solutions cannot be rapidly achieved for the cause of migrations, because there are none”, said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council. False, replied Amnesty: “It is the result of the situation in Libya, which is sliding into chaos, and the conflict in Syria.”
“per L’altra Europa” “Europe must save lives, not set up border patrols.” Barbara Spinelli, Italian Member of the European Parliament (GUE-NGL).