E.U. will send thousands of migrants back to Africa, many from Eritrea

Exclusive: Confidential draft from summit reveals that only 5,000 migrants will be allowed to resettle in Europe with large numbers likely to be repatriated Migrants wait to disembark from an Italian navy ship in Salerno.

Exclusive: Confidential draft from summit reveals that only 5,000 migrants will be allowed to resettle in Europe with large numbers likely to be repatriated

Migrants wait to disembark from an Italian navy ship in Salerno. Theresa May and Philip Hammond believe such rescue operations create a ‘pull factor’ and lead to more deaths by encouraging migrants to risk the dangerous sea crossing.
Migrants wait to disembark from an Italian navy ship in Salerno. Theresa May and Philip Hammond believe such rescue operations create a ‘pull factor’ and lead to more deaths by encouraging migrants to risk the dangerous sea crossing. Photograph: Ivan Romano/Getty

A confidential draft summit statement seen by the Guardian indicates that the vast majority of those who survive the journey and make it to Italy – 150,000 did so last year – will be sent back as irregular migrants under a new rapid-return programme co-ordinated by the EU’s border agency, Frontex. More than 36,000 boat survivors have reached Italy, Malta and Greece so far this year.

The summit statement merely confirms the decision by EU foreign and interior ministers on Monday to double funding in 2015 and 2016 and “reinforce the assets” of the existing Operation Triton and Operation Poseidon border-surveillance operations, which only patrol within 30 miles of the Italian coast.

The European council’s conclusions said this move “should increase the search-and-rescue possibilities within the mandate of Frontex”. The head of Frontex said on Wednesday that Triton should not be an operation primarily aimed at search and rescue.

Instead, the EU leaders are likely to agree that immediate preparations should begin to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers”. The joint EU military operation is to be undertaken within international law.

The statement describes the crisis as a tragedy and says the EU will mobilise all efforts at its disposal to prevent further loss of life at sea and to tackle the root causes of the human emergency, including co-operating with the countries of origin and transit.

“Our immediate priority is to prevent more people dying at sea. We have therefore decided to strengthen our presence at sea, to fight the traffickers, to prevent illegal migration flows and to reinforce internal solidarity,” it says, before adding that the EU leaders intend to support all efforts to re-establish government authority in Libya and address key “push” factors such as the situation in Syria.

But the detail of the communique makes it clear that the measures to be agreed fall far short of this ambition.

In particular in terms of sharing responsibility across the EU the draft statement suggests only “setting up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement, offering at least 5,000 places to persons qualifying for protection”, it says.

The EU leaders also make a commitment to “increasing emergency aid to frontline member states” – taken to mean Italy, Malta and Greece – “and consider options for organising emergency relocation between member states”.

Emergency teams are to be deployed to Italy to help register, fingerprint and process applications for asylum protection as refugees. Increased support is also to be given to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger to monitor and control their land borders to prevent potential migrants getting to the shore of the Mediterranean.

EU leaders are expected to stress their determination to fight the traffickers and will promise to bring them to justice, seize their assets and make a concerted attempt to take down any online material likely to attract migrants and refugees.

On Monday, ministers and the European Commission agreed to bolster the Triton mission, to increase its funding and assets, and to expand the operational area of Triton, which is run by Frontex. But the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, said on the eve of the summit that saving migrants’ lives should not be the priority for his maritime patrols despite the clamour for a more humane response after the deaths of 800 refugees and migrants at the weekend.

He flatly dismissed turning the Triton mission into a search-and-rescue operation and voiced strong doubts about new EU pledges to tackle human traffickers and their vessels in Libya.

“Triton cannot be a search-and-rescue operation. I mean, in our operational plan, we cannot have provisions for proactive search-and-rescue action. This is not in Frontex’s mandate, and this is, in my understanding, not in the mandate of theEuropean Union,” Leggeri said. Instead, he appealed for planes to conduct aerial surveillance so they could anticipate more disasters.

Vigil to commemorate migrants who died at sea in Sliema, outside Valletta.
The summit comes as a joint letter to EU leaders signed by more than 50 former European prime ministers, foreign ministers and business leaders, condemned the death toll of migrants in the Mediterranean as a “stain on the conscience of our continent” and demanded the immediate restoration of expansive search-and-rescue operations. Signatories include the former EU commissioner and Conservative party chairman, Chris Patten; the former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bilt; French former foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner; and George Soros of the Open Society Foundation.

The letter appeals to EU leaders to go beyond the 10-point plan agreed by foreign and interior ministers on Monday and instead calls for an immediate restoration of expansive rescue operations “with a mandate and level of funding that match the humanitarian emergency that confronts us”. The letter says the decision to withdraw support last October for Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation had only succeeded in vastly increasing the number of deaths.

Patten said: “Today’s crisis summit must be clear on its first and most urgent priority, increasing search and rescue back to at least previous levels. Addressing the drivers of migration, from conflict to human trafficking, climate change to human rights abuses is also critically important but will take a longer term strategy to address. My message to EU leaders is clear – history will judge you harshly if you fudge this.”

David Cameron made clear on Wednesday his intention to support an expansion of search-and-rescue operations when he and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, declared that the “coastguard policy” – a reference to Triton – that replaced Mare Nostrum, had not worked. “Now we need to make sure we do more to save lives. That will involve more search and rescue, and there is a contribution I’m sure we can make to that,” Cameron said.

But it is understood that the British prime minister was facing stiff opposition from his own home secretary, Theresa May, and his foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, in his intention to support the expansion of search-and-rescue operations at the summit beyond the limited Triton measures agreed on Monday.

“May is still holding out for a deterrent approach. She wants to focus on action against the traffickers and a rapid returns programme,” one Brussels source said.

Cameron is understood to have shifted his position this week as the extensive media coverage convinced Downing Street and Tory election strategists that voters see the tragedy in the Mediterranean as a humanitarian crisis rather than an immigration issue. He is now expected to override the objections of his home secretary and foreign secretary. “He will have to bump them into it,” said one source.

The Guardian

 

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21 COMMENTS
  • Weyo April 27, 2015

    ወየ ወየ ወየ

    ሕቶ ኣለኒ ኣነ ፣
    ዝምልሶ እንድዒ ፣

    ኣማኑኤል ዮውሃንስ፣ ፒኤችዲ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6iHPpgjDLU

  • Weyo April 27, 2015

    Below is an American TV – CBC report on its weekly magazine – “60 Minutes”. In one of the migrant ship from Libya, the reporter boarded from, the majority were Eritreans.

    Here is another sad report on the cursed place now called Eritrea – death in Eritrea and death outside of Eritrea.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/migrant-death-in-the-mediterranean/

    This is what makes Eritrea the shame of Africa and the shame of humanity in 21 century.

    “Death in the Mediterranean

    Desperation fuels the largest mass migration since WWII in which thousands have died trying to reach Europe by sea. …. “

  • Teclay April 27, 2015

    Weyo //Amanuel Yohanes

    Amanuel Yohanes …Thank you for becoming a voice for millions voiceless.I hope the other artists will follow you .

    Weyo

    Thank you for posting it.This is a tragedy which a world have never seen so far.There have been many problems in the world.But our problem is exceptional in all standards and forms.Example:
    -Who is responsible ? No one wants to take responsibility and apologize courageously.The top educated ones are silent and dying silently in the host countries.
    -The clueless so called Tegadelti are very busy evacuating their teens boys and girls to where ever possible.It seems to have understood the future of the hot-pan unfortunate country called Eritrea.Look !Who will be sure to live there if the liberators themselves are not sure about the future..If it is not in Eritrea it is a paradox.

  • Bekita Ali April 27, 2015

    Some Europeans perceive of the refugees as being attracted by life in the West. This is a justification that allows them to ignore the refugee’s plight and hardship and excuse to their indifference.
    However, migrants are not a burden to the host countries, they are all hard working people. They just want an opportunity to show that they can help themselves and their families as well as repaying to their hosts.

  • Hidat April 27, 2015

    WEYO ……:TEBERABER ERITRA BIGEGANU DEKA HANSABN NIHAWARUN NAXA WEXIAA EYA.

    • Mehret April 28, 2015

      Hiragana, nskhi teberaberi! Yehwatki yHredu, ab Bahri ymotu alewu. Nsatom keman n Eritrea Dewar eyom. Zegnetom nskhi wey etom ewalu (vagabonds) merahtkhi ketehdgwom keto aytkhelun ikhum.
      By the way when are you going to learn? You always give dumb comments!

    • Mehret April 28, 2015

      Hidat, nskhi teberaberi! Yehwatki yHredu, ab Bahri ymotu alewu. Nsatom keman n Eritrea Deqa eyom. Zegnetom nskhi wey etom ewalu (vagabonds) merahtkhi ketehdgwom keto aytkhelun ikhum.
      By the way when are you going to learn? You always give dumb comments!

  • weddi kebessa April 27, 2015

    Any single Eritrean must know that no one Can fix Eritrean problems or has a right so leaving a country is not a good solution .one of commentators said that we to tell the immigrations in Earupean countries that about anyone Support the regime yes this is one of the regime’s weapon agains anyone opposite the regime .Never ever pulling the route of Eritrean tragedies eccept kicking out the idiot regime

  • Nahom Mehari April 27, 2015

    The irony is while Europeans are complaining of the number of refugees entering Europe, they (their governments) don’t hesitate to encourage their private companies to do business with the repressive regimes in Africa who are the underlining causes of flight of refugees.
    The West is gaining far more lucrative profits from the third worlds than they give back in terms of aid and giving sanctuary for refugees. The world has become interdependent but the problem remains the double standard of the West politicians. The refugees are members of the human family and the international community has a duty to protect them.

  • debesay April 28, 2015

    Eritrran never bring changes until they dont make ideological changes.

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