EU: EU-Africa: The fight against smuggling comes of age: from deaths at sea to those in the desert

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EU-Africa: The fight against smuggling comes of age: from deaths at sea to those in the desert
Three questions: Barbara Spinelli MEP highlights the human cost of the fight against smugglers
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Strasbourg, 25 October 2017

Barbara Spinelli interevened during the EP's plenary session on the fight against illegal immigration and human trafficking in the Mediterranean, requested by the ENF group and submitted by Matteo Salvini, MEP for the Northern League. She spoke as the shadow rapporteur for the GUE/NGL group on the Blue Card Directive and on the Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation on the regulation of the assignment of international protection beneficiary qualification for third-country nationals and stateless people, on a uniform status for refugees or for people who have a right to enjoy subsidiary protection and on the content of the protection which is granted.

Her intervention follows:

"I would like to ask the Commission and Council three questions on the fight to block the arrival of forced migrants Europe.

The first one concerns the priority of the fight against smugglers agreed with Libya, Niger and Chad. We are starting to find out about its outcome: fearing the Nigerien authorities, smugglers have been leaving migrants in the desert or take them along routes where there isn't any water. The result: deaths in the desert are increasing exponentially. According to Richard Danziger, the OIM spokesman for central-west Africa, they are now twice as many as the deaths at sea: around 30,000 from 2014 to date. Not all the people who flee reach the Mediterranean.

The second question concerns the Libyan coasts, where there is now a war between gangs: how can the smuggler be distinguished from the militias and the Libyan coastguard, who both the Union and Italy train and arm? According to UNHCR, abuses in the detention centres are "shocking".

The third question concerns the guarantees on UNHCR assistance in Libya. According to the high commissioner for refugees in tripoli, this assistance "is more than makeshift: Libya hasn't even signed the Geneva Convention. It doesn't even have a memorandum with UNHCR".

The Union is responsible for this Africa turned into our prison, for these deaths. One day we will pay for the faults with which we are tarnishing ourselves.

I would like to tell RH Matteo Salvini something he already knows: you have a lot more support in the EU than you claim to have."

[Extract from the press statement by Barbara Spinelli], available (link)
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