‘Saving lives at sea is not optional’: EU chief calls for unity amid warnings migration crisis is not over

Migrants packed tightly onto a small inflatable boat try to move the English Channel close to the Dover Strait, the sector’s busiest transport lane, on September 07, 2020.

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Eu international locations will have to come in combination to handle the problem of migration, the pinnacle of the Eu Fee stated Wednesday, telling member states that “saving lives at sea is not optional.”


Addressing the problem of migration in her State of the Union deal with on Wednesday, EU Fee President Ursula von der Leyen stated “migration is an issue that has been discussed long enough.” She known as at the bloc to triumph over “deep divisions” led to via the 2015 migration disaster and to tug in combination to lend a hand the member states maximum “exposed” to migration.

“Those countries that fulfill their legal and moral duties or are more exposed than others must be able to rely on the solidarity of others in our whole European Union,” she stated.

Europe’s migration disaster of 2015 noticed loads of 1000’s of migrants, basically from war-torn Syria, strive to succeed in Europe, regularly with tragic penalties.

5 years on and the choice of other people making an attempt to make the crossing stays increased, even supposing now not just about as top when in comparison to 2015. In that 12 months on my own, an estimated 1 million migrants entered the EU, in step with the United International locations, with nearly 4,000 feared to have drowned within the strive to succeed in Europe via sea.

The UN’s Global Group for Migration (IOM) says that, up to now this 12 months, there were 48,529 migrant arrivals to Europe, predominantly via sea. The quantity is a ways not up to earlier years with the coronavirus pandemic appearing as a dampener on migration; In January 2020, the IOM reported that 110,669 migrants and refugees entered Europe via sea in 2019, marking the 6th instantly 12 months that no less than 100,000 arrivals had been recorded on 3 Mediterranean sea routes.

The migration disaster in 2015 led to “deep divisions” inside the bloc and “scars (that are) still healing today,” von der Leyen stated Wednesday, calling on all member states to “step up” to the demanding situations posed via migration.

Eu Fee President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her first State of the Union speech of 2020 on 16 September in Brussels, Belgium.

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A number of international locations in japanese Europe closed borders and refused to simply accept quotas of migrants after the EU devised a migrant relocation scheme to alleviate international locations like Greece, Spain and Italy the place maximum migrants arrived, and nonetheless do, to at the moment, with many in migrant camps, or reception facilities, situated in southern Europe whilst their asylum claims are processed.

Tempers have frayed each in reception facilities which may also be crowded and unsanitary and inside the cities and islands (together with Greek islands, Sicily and Malta) the place facilities are essentially situated. Locals and governments have additionally been left annoyed at what they see as a loss of growth and harmony over the problem of migration too.

The thorny factor of migrant camps returned to the fore final week after a hearth ripped in the course of the Moria Reception and Identity Middle in Lesbos.

The hearth left 12,000 migrants and refugees homeless, together with an estimated 4,000 youngsters, the UN stated because it known as for EU states to paintings in combination urgently to “de-congest the islands and assist Greece.”

The Fee, the EU’s govt arm, is scheduled to release a long-awaited migration pact subsequent week with the emphasis anticipated to be on combating migrants from getting into the EU, in step with EU Observer.

Migration charities and NGOs, like Human Rights Watch, are already caution the EU that its insurance policies have to concentrate on human rights.

“The European Commission should ensure that its new ‘Pact on Migration and Asylum,’ expected on September 23, reflects the right lessons learned from the devastation and human misery on Lesbos. The Commission and EU member states should commit to border governance that respects human dignity and the right to seek asylum while ensuring a fair distribution of responsibility among EU member states,” Human Rights Watch stated Wednesday.

Ethical dilemmas

Signaling the EU’s course on migration, von der Leyen stated a transparent difference needed to be made between migrants that “have the right to stay, and those who do not” and the Fee would take steps to fight other people smugglers, make stronger exterior borders, deepen exterior partnership and to verify “that people who have the right to stay are integrated and made to feel welcome.”

Federico Soda, migration skilled and the IOM’s Leader of Undertaking in Libya, a rustic that sees loads of migrants makes an attempt to make the ocean passage to Europe, characterised the migration state of affairs surrounding Europe as “dormant” quite than resolved.

Syrian abnormal migrant circle of relatives, whose boats had been flooded, rescue when they had been stranded at the islet whilst they’re making an attempt to succeed in Greek facet of Evros River in Edirne, Turkey on February 29, 2020.

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“If you measure it in terms of people reaching your borders then the crisis has ‘passed’,” Soda stated, “but if you measure it in terms of people dying, suffering and being abused it’s by no means passed. And if you look at it politically in terms of the European Union I also don’t think it’s by any means passed.”

“You have to look at it from the European side in terms of what progress has been made within the union to develop policies that are adequate for these types of population movements that will inevitably (continue),” he stated.

“Even to this day, the main countries that are bearing the brunt of these arrivals are mostly very dissatisfied with the response from the rest of the European member states … It’s been brushed over, put aside, but it’s by no means resolved.”

Soda stated Europe had to deal with migration and asylum insurance policies now, in addition to operating with different countries to handle inequalities inside of — and between international locations — that spurred migration, which he conceded used to be a “long-term process.”

“At the moment Europe’s approach is that its borders are closed and we just don’t think that’s sustainable … You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that the geography of the European continent is going to continue to have people coming and knocking at its doors in an irregular, undocumented way. And it’s the south (of Europe) now but it could be the east in future. And the reality is that these issues within the EU are still very, very much a point of great political tension.”