The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Migration Summit: Current ad-hoc relocation system is inhuman, unsustainable, NGOs say

Monday, 23 September 2019, 08:26 Last update: about 23 days ago

The current ad hoc system whereby relocation is negotiated on a ship-by-ship basis is neither humane nor sustainable, a group of NGOs said yesterday, ahead of today’s migration Summit, which is being held in Malta.

Interior Ministers from Malta, France, Italy Germany and Finland will meet at Fort St Angelo to discuss the 'Predictive Temporary Allocation Programme' which should decide on an agreement on how to manage migrant landings and relocation in Europe.

ADVERTISEMENT

The NGOs strongly urged the meeting participants to bring to an end a distribution of responsibilities that results in human suffering, injustice and violations of international and European law.

“A permanent system of disembarkation and relocation of asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean is absolutely necessary,” they said.

The NGOs said it is imperative that rescued asylum-seekers are always treated in a manner that fully respects their dignity and fundamental rights. Ultimately, the present scenario risks draining cooperating Member States of their willingness to support Italy and Malta.

Relocating asylum-seekers should be based on the principles enshrined in Europe’s asylum norms, including: registration and protection as asylum-seekers, appropriate provision of information, restoration of family ties, identification of and support to vulnerable persons, they said.

“We are particularly concerned at Malta’s treatment of rescued persons in the Initial Reception Centre and in Safi Detention Centre. We have already expressed our concerns regarding the lawfulness of the detention of those who have been detained on medical grounds for weeks on end. Beyond this, both centres are over-crowded and living conditions are abysmal. Whilst we fully appreciate Malta’s challenges in receiving relatively large numbers of asylum-seekers in a short time, we cannot endorse an approach that leaves people locked up for weeks, without a valid reason at law, and treats them with such disregard for their humanity. It is simply unacceptable that this approach is tolerated by a European Union built on values of solidarity, humanity and dignity.”

The NGOs strongly urged the participants to seek to establish a permanent relocation mechanism for asylum-seekers rescued in the Mediterranean that:

1. Provides effective solidarity with Italy and Malta by ensuring the swift transfer of asylum-seekers and by providing support – including financial – towards the urgent improvement of reception conditions;

2. Terminates at once the approach whereby rescued persons are only allowed to be disembarked once their relocation is secured;

3. Ensure that all persons are provided with information, in a manner they understand, about their futures from the moment of their arrival and throughout the relocation procedure;

4. Guarantees that, following disembarkation, all persons are treated humanely and with respect for their dignity and fundamental human rights;

5. Immediately strengthens the capacity of open reception centres, both in terms of physical space and in terms of the human resources necessary to provide all asylumseekers with the support they need to rebuild their lives.

The statement was signed by: Aditus Foundation,  African Media Association, Blue Door English, Integra Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Migrant Women Association, Moviment Graffitti, Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education, SOS Malta and Syrian Solidarity in Malta.

On Saturday, Mission Lifeline said it hopes that the summit would address and improve the problems witnessed during these last months of EU states denying a safe port to search and rescue NGOs.

Mission Lifeline said these issues have led to repeated stand-offs whilst creating unsafe and dangerous conditions for the already vulnerable rescued people on board.

The statement was signed by Captain Claus-Peter Reisch, who was recently fined €300,000 by Italian authorities after entering the port of Pozzalo, defying a ban.

The NGO said it is demanding safe passage through the Mediterranean for all people fleeing their country and the end of the agreement with the so called "Libyan coastguard." It also called for an end to the criminalisation of NGOs and a reform of the Dublin Regulations.

Since the beginning of 2019 and according to the organisation Missing Migrants, there have been 933 reported deaths in the Mediterranean Sea due to attempted crossing to Europe.

  • don't miss