The Italian government have put forward proposals to outsource Mediterranean immigration patrols to African countries, as it faces anger from a UN group as 50 migrants trying to smuggle themselves into the EU drowned.
Italy has long argue that it needs support from other EU countries including funding, as it is the main arrival point for asylum seekers and immigrants from Africa and the Middle East who use the country as a landing point, rather than a final destination, the Guardian reports.
The proposals, which were discussed amongst European interior ministers last week, noted that Italian patrols rescued 170,000 migrants in the Mediterranean last year and took them to Italy. In the first two months of this year, the figures had almost doubled compared to the year before. People Traffickers have taken advantage of the Mare Nostrum patrols, cramming unsafe numbers of migrants onto rickety boats, knowing that in all likelihood they will be rescued by the Italian coastguard.
“The current situation is so serious that a radical change in the EU perspective is required,” the proposal read. “We have to make all possible efforts to prevent the departure of migrants from the southern shores of the Mediterranean. One viable option is a gradual and direct involvement of reliable third countries in the maritime surveillance and search and rescue activity.”
The objective is to share the cost of the patrols and the huge waves of migrants who are facing violence in their country or are in search of an El Dorado lifestyle they believe can be achieved in a European country, with ‘free’ education and welfare handouts.
It said that initial conversations had been had with authorities in Egypt and Tunisia but that “EU member states and relevant EU institutions and agencies have to take adequate, quick and effective actions … The objective should be to share such a heavy burden with those third countries.”
The EU is considering plans to outsource its patrols of the Mediterranean to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia in order to try to reduce the high numbers of desperate illegal migrants risking their lives to reach European shores.
Under the proposals, the EU would strike deals with North African countries to fund and train their navies in search and rescue missions. Once rescued the migrants would then be taken to the ports of the country saving them or sent back to their countries of origin – but importantly because they would not step foot on European soil they would not be able to claim asylum there, or take advantage of the Dublin Agreement and passport free movement provided by the Schengen Agreement.
“This would produce a real deterrent effect, so that fewer and fewer migrants would be ready to put their life at risk to reach the European coasts,” said the Italian document.
Interior minister have also been discussing asylum centres based in Africa, euphemistically called “reception centres” which would be financed by Europe to try to hold would-be immigrants back and keep them out of the hands of traffickers. They would establish a ‘European’ asylum processing office outside of the territory of the bloc to stop automatic claims of right to remain.
The proposals have not been welcomed by everyone. Britain is strongly opposed to an asylum process outside the EU because it would require an agreed EU system for dividing refugee numbers between all 28 member states. But Austria supports it, for precisely this reason, thinking that a centrally organised EU system would cut the number of refugees arriving there.
The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, confirmed last week that the policies were being discussed. We have to have strong and responsible control in places where we want to have such camps.”
He is shortly to travel to North Africa on his first joint trip with Italian EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, a former communist who had her photo taken with Yasser Arafat.
The UN refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration has been called on to become involved in providing expertise and assistance with both organisations confirming they had been in contact with EU policymakers.
A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner, Willian Spindler, said there had been “a lot of proposals but not details about what they mean”.
“Given the situation in the Mediterranean, we need to explore all the available options. But it’s not a fully developed plan. Some countries are very reticent.”
The proposals would have to be cleared by the European Parliament which usually holds more diverse positions than the European Council. On one hand, MEPs on the right will object to their country’s asylum policy being ‘Europeanised’ and on the other, they will say that the EU is palming off its responsibilities.
Meanwhile, as news hit that of the 50 victims of the latest boat capsizing trying to make its way to Italian territory, the UN chose to prioritise the fates of nine Palestinian migrants who were on board.
“The fact that this group reportedly consisted of Palestine refugees from Syria, as well as from Gaza and Lebanon, is a clear and tragic sign that Palestine refugees are finding life in Syria and beyond increasingly untenable,”a spokesman from the UN Palestinian refugee agency said.
“These tragedies…stem not only from armed conflict, occupation and a lack of protection of human rights, but more fundamentally from the failure to resolve the Palestine refugee problem.”
Read: Italy Asylum Applications up 143% in One Year on Breitbart