The European Union (EU) is seeking to create disembarkment platforms in north Africa and elsewhere to decide on asylum requests before claimants get to Europe, according to a draft statement ahead of an EU summit.
This was revealed after increasing pressure from Germany and Italy.
Because a new populist government closed its ports to rescue ships, one boat was forced to disembark more than 600 migrants in Spain last weekend.
As a result of this, Italy would like migrants to be stopped in transit to Europe’s border agency before they board boats. Stopping in route rather than in the Mediterranean will promote safety, Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said on Tuesday.
Frontex, an EU border agency, runs an operation off the coast of Italy called Themis. Themis works closely with the coast guard to patrol with 10 ships, two planes and 2 helicopters. Miraculously, this agency rescued approximately 3,200 migrants this year and 21,500 last year.
“We don’t want anymore sea rescues by Frontex if the European agency then finds itself with no choice but to bring those rescued to Italian ports,” said Toninelli, who oversees the coast guard.
“The battle that we are waging … is to move Frontex onto solid ground in transit countries,” he said at a conference organized in Rome by the EU’s anti-human trafficking operation Sophia. “The political objective is to not allow them to leave in the first place.”
“We continue to work in accordance with the current operational plan agreed with Italy,” a Frontex spokeswoman said.
Thousands of migrants end up on unsafe boats by Libya based people smugglers, which Frontex has aided with.
All rescued migrants were brought to Italy.
Details on the EU’s disembarkment platforms is still not known. However, the UN refugee agency already operating as a transit center in Niger where asylum seekers can request resettlement in Europe and elsewhere.
Another center of that kind should be opening soon in Tripoli.
“Our transit center in Tripoli is almost ready,” Vincent Cochetel, the U.N. agency’s special envoy central the Mediterranean, said on Twitter. “Resettlement from Libya & Niger now needs to work much faster.”
Since 2013, hundreds of thousands of migrants have been fleeing violence and poverty, mostly from the Middle East and North Africa. Normally travelling to Libya, they then try to reach Europe by boat.
An estimated 3,100 migrants died in 2017 alone.