The European Union has set out a package of measures to try to ease the migrant boat crisis in the Mediterranean while African leaders continue to watch their citizens perished in the Mediterranean sea. Its Triton patrolling service will be strengthened and a military mandate sought to destroy people-smugglers’ boats and EU leaders will hold an emergency summit on Thursday to further discuss these human tragedies.
The crisis worsened at the weekend when more than 700 hundred people were feared drowned as a boat capsized off the coast of Libya and this evening a boat capsized just at the coast of Sicily.
According to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the 10 points package sets out at talks in Luxembourg was a strong reaction from the EU to the tragedies and shows a new sense of urgency and political will. Ms Mogherini also said the EU are developing a truly European sense of solidarity in fighting human trafficking – finally so.
The measures the EU planned to implement include an increase in the financial resources of Frontex, which runs the EU’s Mediterranean rescue service Triton, and an extension of Triton’s operational area. Also EU Joint processing of asylum applications – within two months of their being lodged, fingerprinting and recording of all migrants, an EU pilot project on migrant resettlement which would be voluntary, offer of return travel packages, immigration liaison officers in key countries. The civilian and military operation to destroy the people-smugglers’ boats would need a mandate signed off by the European Council. The EU had been criticised over the scope of Triton, which replaced the larger Italian operation Mare Nostrum at the end of last year, however, the EU is ready to do something about this tragedy. Ms Mogherini also stressed the need for action on Libya, where there was no state entity to control borders.
EU ministers have argued differently, some said the sea patrols should be expanded again and funding should also be increased, however, other ministers suggested that migrant camps could be set up in North Africa to allow migrants to apply for asylum before crossing the Mediterranean sea. The Thursday’s EU emergency meeting is a very important meeting as it has been described as a matter of life and death.
According to the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Sunday’s tragedy of 700 drowning was a game changer and he said military intervention in the Libyan civil war was not on the agenda, but they planned to target the people smugglers and he also said history will very badly judge Europe if they fail to act and put a stop to this humanitarian crisis.
According to the UN says the route from North Africa to Italy and Malta has become the world’s deadliest and they estimated that up to 1,500 people are now feared to have drowned in 2015 alone
Save the Children accused EU foreign ministers of “dithering as children drown”, criticising them for not introducing more search and rescue operations sooner.
The aid agencies are now in direct confrontation with countries like Britain, which has opposed increased levels of search and rescue missions. Last year, the UK government objected to further EU funding for Operation Mare Nostrum, the pro-active, Italian-led search and rescue mission, on the basis that it acted as a “pull factor” for more people trafficking.
Meanwhile, despite the latest tragedies, the UK government made it clear that it did not still support calls for increased search and rescue mission as they described them as “just one part” of the solution. British officials also refused to support a German suggestion that EU nations should provide specific quotas for migrants fleeing chaos in Syria and elsewhere. However, the loss of life in recent days combined with the near-inevitability of similar tragedies in coming weeks and months may make it hard for the British Prime Minister David Cameron to maintain his stance. More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in Italy in less than a fortnight, and as of last night, there were reported to be six separate ongoing operations to save a further 1,500 people on boats in the Mediterranean, according to UN sources.
While all these things happened, African leaders sit by quietly and continue to repress and force their people to these dangerous journeys. It is very shameful for African leaders to sit by and watch their own citizens dying in such tragic circumstances and do nothing about it. The African Union should be scrapped since it is only there to benefit the leaders themselves, because the money it take to run that useless organisation could have been better put in deterring programmes such as education and health. The majority of African countries gained their independence over 50 years ago, however, it seems the colonial days were even much better than now and such example can be found in South Africa, where black people are killing their fellow blacks due to the failing of their leadership. It’s disheartening watching news programmes and on daily basis, you see nothing but people, especially Africans dying in the seas or are ravaged by war or diseases and yet still their leaders are less concern.