Members of European Parliament have approved the proposal to assign to the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027 to strengthen the security in Mediterranean.
Europe’s external borders have seen an unprecedented rise in the numbers of illegal migrants and refugees wishing to enter the EU in recent years. The plans,adopted by MEPs during April Plenary will see the EU agency equipped with a standing corps of 10,000 border guards by 2027. The standing corps will consist of staff members employed by the agency as well as staff seconded on a mandatory basis by EU countries.
“You have to be fair with those who deserve protection, harsh with those prey on the vulnerable and firm with those who seek to break the rules” the rapporteur Roberta Metsola (pictured above), the rapporteur said.
The critics of the measure say the measure is superficial and does not address the problem of the illegal migration in a meaningful way. Often articulated promises to apply different approach to people who have right for asylum, and those who don’t are largely exclusionary, because it is impossible to trace their identities in principle.
African population is largely following verbal traditions, and has no custom to issue documents at birth. According World Bank 500 million Africans have no birth certificate and have no information on date of their birth, including day, month, year. This phenomena became notorious in Europe, when young men were successfully claiming to be minors, but there were no legal mechanism to establish their age. Subsequently in absence of population register in Sub–Saharan Africa the promises to make difference between different categories of illegal migrants crossing Mediterranean, are totally illusory.
The opponents of Roberta Metsola insist that at present shape the Coast Guard Agency is designed to accommodate illegal migrants plans to enter Europe safely, however it does not serve the interest of the European nations, some of which, like Italy, were overwhelmed by the influx of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.
“My comment on the role of NGOs is unambiguous. […] I have never questioned the sincerity of NGOs”, said French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner in a video posted on his Twitter micro blog, while ensuring that his statements, concerning NGOs were based on “facts“.
“It is documented that in some cases there have been de facto interactions between smugglers and some NGOs,” he said, citing “two Frontex reports in November and December 2016“.
On April 12, while ensuring that NGOs “play a vital role in providing assistance to migrants” in the Mediterranean, Christophe Castaner had considered that they “could be accomplices” smugglers and had called them to “have a responsible attitude“. The SOS Mediterranean Association sent him a letter denouncing “serious accusations“, assuring that none of these allegations “has ever been proven or substantiated by the slightest evidence” and that “none of the judicial proceedings initiated did not succeed“.
“Our enemies, our real enemies, our only enemies, are the smugglers. The smugglers, and nobody else“, also underlined Christophe Castaner, who denounced the reactions of indignation coming from the NGOs.
Malta informed its navy has seized control of a tanker ship hijacked by migrants in the Mediterranean, according to a government statement. (Image above: illustration).
“The Captain repeatedly stated that he was not in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by a number of migrants to proceed to Malta. AFM Patrol Vessel P21 stopped the tanker from entering the Maltese territorial waters,” the government statement said.
Maltese maritime authorities established contact with the vessel’s captain when the tanker was about 30 nautical miles (55 km) off the coast.
Italy‘s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, , said that relevant authorities would not have allowed “criminals” who had committed an act of piracy to enter its ports.
Regardless an act of piracy the Sea Watch, NGO which carries out search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, criticized Salvini‘s comments, blaming Europe for despair, pushing Africans to criminal path.
“We must look to these 108 people with an eye of humanity and understand that any actions taken yesterday were in self-defense against the deadly consequences forced upon them by Europe’s inhumane border policy,” says Johannes Bayer, Chairman of Sea-Watch.
Several police vans were lined up in the port to take custody of the migrants for investigation, and five migrants were removed from the ship in handcuffs.
Malta officials report 100 illegal migrants arrived on board of a hijacked vessel — 38 men, 15 women and 47 claiming to be minors. In absence of documents the real age of the “minors” is impossible to establish in ordinary legal procedures, the status of a minor automatically foresees a set of advantages, and makes it much easier for migrants to obtain asylum status.
The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini calls Mediterranean countries to work together on issues of migration: “we share a challenge and we can only solve and address this phenomenon if we take a cooperative approach based on partnership among equals”.
“…What happens around the Mediterranean and in the Mediterranean matters to the whole of Europe and not just to the countries that are around the coasts of our common sea.
“It is not just about migration – it made itself evident that we need to come together to manage the phenomenon -, it is also about security; about economic development; about climate change..”
“…Some of us have experienced war inside their countries or at their borders and we have all seen how difficult a transition can be – be it a transition from war to an inclusive peaceful reconciliation and the building of state institutions or be it from a war economy to a solid peace economy. These trends have fostered migration from our countries, through our countries and towards our countries.”
“.. I believe that it is high-time today to try to find and open new avenues of cooperation across the Southern shore of the Mediterranean, in particular in the Maghreb, as a win-win exercise, starting on practical matters” – Mogherini concluded.
Above the extracts from Federica Mogherini speech at “Working together: A sustainable future for the Western Mediterranean“, at the 15th meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 5+5 Western Mediterranean Dialogue. France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia gathered inValletta January, 18.
European Council addressed the implementation of its approach to migration, which combines more effective control of the EU’s external borders, increased external action and the internal aspects.
European Council notes that the number of detected illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing. This is the result of the external migration policy of the Union and its Member States, based, in particular, on control of the external borders, the fight against smugglers and cooperation with countries of origin and transit, which has been intensified in recent months. This policy should therefore be continued, further developed and fully implemented.
Vigilance on all existing and emerging routes should be maintained, in particular in view of recent increases on the Western and Eastern Mediterranean Routes.
As regards the internal policies, the European Council invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG).
It welcomes the agreement reached at the level of the Council on 6 December 2018 with regard to enhancing the EBCG’s mandate in the area of return and cooperation with third countries. It also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions and taking into account the varying degree of progress on each of these files.
Fifty-eight migrants aboard the #Aquarius NGO rescue vessel will be trasported to Malta and from there to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, after a deal was reached to share the responsibility for the arrivals among EU member-states.
The migrants will “disembark in international waters”, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted from the UN General Assembly in New York.
However he urged Aquarius vessel to clarify its status. Since February 2016 the vessel operates as major transport for NGO SOS Mediterranée and Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without borders) to search and rescue illegal migrants from African coasts, mainly Libya, assisting their safe sea crossing to reach European shores.
Panama authorities have begun procedures to revoke the registration of the Aquarius illegal migrants rescue ship operating in the central Mediterranean. Charities say the Italian government is to blame for the move.
Italian news agency ANSA received one of two 2018 Mediterranean Caravel journalism prizes at the 10th Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival in Otranto for its newswire Infomigants, a multi-language service for migrants.
The main Italian news production service supplies Infomigrants through ANSAmed, together with France Media Monde and Deutsche Welle.
ANSA Deputy Editor and Infomigrants coordinator Stefano Polli received the award for Infomigrants, while the other Caravel prize went to Paolo Messa, founder of Formiche magazine. Infomigrants is published in four languages – English, French, Arabic and Pashtun – and aims to give accurate information to illegal migrants and refugees determined to reach Europe, in countries of origin, transit countries, and arrival countries.
The news sites offer stories on political, economic, and cultural relationships between Europe and southern Mediterranean countries, the Middle East, and Africa.
The Journalists of the Mediterranean Festival is organised by the Terra del Mediterraneo Association, in partnership with the City of Otranto, the Region of Puglia, the University of Bari Aldo Moro, and the Consular Corps of Puglia, Basilicata and Molise.
The winner for reporting was Alessio Lasta of channel La7 with “Dreaming France – The Snow Route of Migrants in the Alps”.
*ANSA news agency receives funds from European Commission.