Of the 150,000 migrants who came to Europe illegally by boat last year, just 5,000 could be granted asylum with the remainder being sent back, a document leaked ahead of today’s crisis talks on the state of the Mediterranean reveals.
In addition to the uncharacteristically robust stance on the asylum seeker influx, it was also revealed that despite pressure from Europe’s political left, the present border patrol mission largely operated by the Italian navy and coast guard and funded with EU money is unlikely to be expanded. The draft summit statement seen by The Guardian newspaper confirms the doubling of funding for Operation Triton, a scaled down patrol mission replacing Operation Mare Nostrum agreed by European nations at a meeting on Monday, but that no further funding would be allocated.
Pressure groups asking for Europe’s borders to be opened, rather than tightened have reacted with despair at the document. Kate Allen of Amnesty International UK, called the draft resolution “totally inadequate”, calling it “almost beyond words”.
Stopping the flow of asylum seekers by boat, which is predicted to rise to half a million people this year by a senior United Nations official, will according to the document now focus on destroying the boats used by criminal people smugglers before they even set to sea.
Eliminating the tools used in this illegal trade will not only impoverish the real villains of this tragedy – people smugglers who accept in the region of $2,000 a head for voyages that have no guarantee of success. It will also neatly circumvent the EU’s own law which forces them to accept refugees for processing once they are intercepted at sea.
Similar tactics were employed by a coalition of major world navies, including the United States Navy and the Royal Navy against pirates attacking merchant shipping off the coast of Somalia to great effect. Considered one of the greatest threats to world commerce just 10 years ago, piracy around the Horn of Africa has all but vanished thanks to proactive, rather than reactive efforts to take on the pirates.
If the new strategy described in the leaked document is actually put into place by the European Union, it would bring the response of the continental union closer to that used extremely successfully by Tony Abbott’s conservative government in Australia, which has a policy of sinking smuggler boats by naval gunfire once the asylum seekers are taken off. They are then returned – forcibly if necessary – to their places of origin.
Breitbart London reported the comments of Tony Abbott earlier this week, when he said of the present migrant crisis gripping the Mediterranean: “The only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats”. Before the Abbott government began a policy of using the Royal Australian Navy to conduct so-called ‘turnbacks’ of migrant boats, hundreds were arriving a year, and 1,200 were known to have died trying to make the voyage.
The uncompromising stance means Australia has now gone months without seeing a single attempt to illegally land asylum seekers on its territory by people smugglers.