EU Navy Mission To Stop Migration

EU Rescue Ship in Mediterranean Sea on Jan 4, 2020

The EU's Mediterranean mission could soon monitor the arms embargo in Libya and block a route to Europe popular among refugees.

 

The EU's Mediterranean mission, known as Sophia, could soon monitor the arms embargo against the civil war-torn country of Libya. Corresponding ideas from the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell met with the support of the German Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) at the meeting of the EU interior ministers in Zagreb. "Everything the international community can do to ensure peace is good, and that's why it has my support," he said in the Croatian capital.

 

Sophia was originally supposed to curb smuggling and human trafficking in the Mediterranean. Until the end of the naval operation almost a year ago, migrants were repeatedly rescued from distress who tried to come to Europe primarily from Libya. Since April 2019, the EU has no longer been operating with ships in the Mediterranean because the EU countries could not agree on who takes refugees. The then government of Italy had asked for a fixed distribution quotas because those who had been rescued were only brought to Italy at the time - as the closest country with safe havens.

 

For Germany, Mr Seehofer recently committed to accept a quarter of the saved. There had been criticism from the radical and conservative parties but in reality only relatively few refugees reach Germany in a consequence of the sea accidents. In the past few months, 401 migrants have been rescued in the central Mediterranean. In addition, the Federal Republic had agreed to accept another 249 boat migrants in 2019. Further commitments are pending for 2020. Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland also participated regularly.

 

However, German Foreign Minister emphasised that the naval deployment should not favour the transfer of refugees to Europe. "It is always important to me that it is about an acute sea rescue, about saving people from drowning," he said. There should be no "taxi service or shuttle service between Libya and Italy". He was confident that other countries would be involved in sea rescue in the coming months.

 

Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer also said that sea rescue should not mean a "ticket to Europe". When asked whether rescued people should be returned to the civil war-torn country of Libya, the ÖVP politician said: "It is best to return them to the country of their origins."

 

Libya is considered a failed state. Refugees from central Africa live there sometimes under inhumane conditions, are blackmailed and mistreated until tugs put them in boats.

 

 

 

Refugee policy is also the subject of Merkel and Erdoğan

 

The securing of the route from Syria to Greece is also currently being discussed. Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Turkey during her visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that she would strengthen her coast guard. The Turkish coast guard has an important role in trying to stop migrants from entering Greece and thus the European Union. Following talks with the Chancellor, Erdoğan called on the EU to take more responsibility for the care of Syrian refugees. "Above all, it is a human responsibility to ensure that Europe and the European countries provide the Syrians with even more and faster aid," he said.

 

Turkey has taken in more than 3.6 million refugees from the civil war-torn country of Syria. The fighting around the region of Idlib, which is largely controlled by Islamist rebels, has recently intensified in Syria. The Syrian military continued to advance in the region in northwest Syria with the help of Russian airstrikes. Erdoğan said that around 400,000 people have now fled the violence towards the Turkish border.

 

Refugee policy is also the subject of Merkel and Erdoğan

 

The cutting off the route from Syria to Greece is also currently being discussed. Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Turkey during her visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that she would strengthen her coast guard. The Turkish coast guard has an important role in trying to stop migrants from entering Greece and thus the European Union. Following talks with the Chancellor, Erdoğan called on the EU to take more responsibility for the care of Syrian refugees. "Above all, it is a human responsibility to ensure that Europe and the European countries provide the Syrians with even more and faster aid," he said.

 

Turkey has taken in more than 3.6 million refugees from the civil war-torn country of Syria. The fighting around the region of Idlib, which is largely controlled by Islamist rebels, has recently intensified in Syria. The Syrian military continued to advance in the region in northwest Syria with the help of Russian airstrikes. Erdoğan said that around 400,000 people have now fled the violence towards the Turkish border.

 

In 2016, the EU negotiated a refugee agreement with Turkey to prevent migrants from traveling to the EU. It is a kind of barter: the EU can send all migrants who have illegally transferred to the Greek islands and have not been granted asylum back to Turkey. In return, for every Syrian sent back, another Syrian from Turkey can legally enter the EU. It was also agreed that the EU would pay six billion euros to improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Erdoğan has repeatedly threatened to terminate the agreement in the past.

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