The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Europe is in crisis when it comes to migration flows – German MEP

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 09:58 Last update: about 8 years ago

EPP Coordinator on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Monika Hohlmeier believes that Europe is currently in a crisis situation when it comes to migration flows. Kevin Schembri Orland writes

 

Speaking to The Malta Independent at her office in Strasbourg, Ms Hohlmeier said many states around the EU are at war or in problematic situations where terrorists are attempting to build up their own state system. In addition, some states have just gone through a change of system like Tunisia and Egypt.

“In countries like Sudan, Nigeria and Eritrea, people are being persecuted; left starving with no hope for the future and so they try and escape to make a better life for themselves, to have a chance to survive,” the German MEP said.

“I don’t think our normal regulations are enough to handle the situation. We have the Dublin regulation, where member states still haven’t decided how to tackle the stated reference to a crisis mechanism. In said mechanism, all states must implement an asylum system, yet there are states without such a system, with no registration etc”.

“These states must implement acceptable health support and help mechanisms for refugees, and a right of education for children must be realised”.

“We face a situation where some member states are not realising these standards. A second problem arises where member states, like Bulgaria and Romania, have internal problems, where refugees do not like to go as their futures there would not look too prosperous” she said. She continued: “Other states like Malta, Germany, Sweden and Luxembourg  host a large number of refugees for different reasons. Malta, due to its geographical placement, Germany and Sweden due to open systems and good accommodation and help offered to refugees”.

A quota and distribution system

“Then we have member states like Finland, where no one goes as they are too far away. I am in favour of a quota and distribution system, but I am also in favour of every member state having to guarantee the system and have a certain number of accommodation slots for refugees.  If this minimum contingent begins to become overburdened, then crisis mechanisms can be engaged and we can see how to distribute refugees,” she said.

“ If Italy does not receive a guarantee that we would accommodate a certain number of refugees then they would refuse to behave in a proper manner, so this situation must be solved. We need this kind of minimum contingent together withimplementation of proper asylum systems and a system of distribution that must be tested in a pilot project”.

“We lack cooperation between member states and also a lack cooperation with Turkey that has a refugee and organised crime problem. Traffickers”

Turning to the fight against human trafficking, she doesn’t believe the EU is doing enough. “These traffickers and organised criminals are well equipped and work in a very tough and modern way. We lack cooperation between member states and also a lack cooperation with Turkey that has a refugee and organised crime problem. Traffickers prefer to use Turkey to smuggle refugees at the moment due to the current problems in Libya, while Tunisia tries to cooperate with the EU”.

All ‘ghost ships’ thus far were launched from Turkey, she said. “Traffickers buy old unused ships and pack them with migrants. Those sick are thrown overboard and left to drown. Eventually the organisers abandon the ship in international waters leaving it on autopilot heading to the destination”. 

Must move towards resettlement

“Turkey is one of our partners but it must agree to cooperate with us in this field otherwise we will not be able to solve the trafficking situation.  We need to move more towards the implementation of resettlement, where we would be able to accept asylum seekers directly from Tunisia and other countries, while working with the UNHCR, to bring refugees directly from their rather than have them be trafficked by organised criminals.”

Asked whether this would require more EU personnel on the ground within African states given that those countries have issues with corruption, she said that “We cannot stop corruption in those states but we can help. There are a minimum of 50 million refugees in that area. If someone believes that we can solve this issue within the EU they are wrong. We must do several things. First is my aforementioned statement of strengthening our asylum systems. Secondly we must focus funding in those areas through development policies and humanitarian aid and help construct cities, not like houses in Malta or Italy, but enough to help people survive in such areas. There have been people living in tents for the past eighteen years, children who have never seen a school.  EU has excellent organisations based in member states who can help operate such projects”.

Turning to child migration and children who arrive on EU shores alone, she believes children must be treated in a separate way.” There are member states where unaccompanied minors have the right to receive special treatment , with the help of specialists trained to help children who have lost their parents and are living without their family. Many of these children were forced into prostitution, tortured, they really have survived horrible situations. They would need psychological help and I believe the EU must pay more attention to this. Very often unaccompanied minors don’t know where their parents are and very often we need to find their families”.

We cannot allow those on the front line to address the issue on their own

Meanwhile, former Portuguese Minister and senior MEP Carlos Coehlo believes that right now, there is a lack of solidarity among EU member states. “We cannot allow those on the frontline address the issue on their own. We really need a common immigration policy, that currently doesn’t exist”.

“We should address immigration issues as well as asylum and protecting lives through search and rescue missions”.

Mare Nostrum was a much larger and better organised operation than operation Triton, he said. “A colleague of mine called this project ‘the little Triton’, in order to underline that it was a very small operation. If the EU will decide to properly address the issue, we should properly organise missions of appropriate size”.

The threat of immigration from Libya

 

“If the threat of immigration from Libya grows, we would need to better organise our response. Let me be clear, when people are escaping war and misery, I don’t think a ‘police’ response would be enough. We are discussing a holistic approach to immigration. Cooperation with third countries would be very important”. 

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