Council response to migrant deaths is shameful
GUE/NGL has today reiterated its repeated calls for a radical and urgent change to the EU's asylum and migration policies in light of the latest horrific migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
President Gabi Zimmer said that the Council's response was "shameful and inhumane" and presented the group's own alternative ten-point plan to deal with the humanitarian crisis.
Zimmer said: "Europe is supposed to be a continent of rights, justice, and protection. But it appears that these rights only apply to some and not to others."
"The European Commission's ten-point plan and the Council statement were decided on without consulting any parliament," commented German MEP Cornelia Ernst. "In our alternative ten-point plan we call for respect for victims, legal channels to Europe, and help for the countries that take in refugees."
"Declaring war on traffickers and believing that they are the only ones responsible for the deaths is the completely wrong approach," said Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli. "They only exist because refugees don't have access to legal channels. Abolishing the Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue programme was a mistake, and Triton's mandate is only to protect borders not people."
"The Council's response focuses on keeping people away rather than on protecting people," added Swedish MEP Malin Björk. "We must build a society where we bring people together and do not pit people against each other. What we need are humanitarian visas; we simply cannot accept more funding for Frontex."
The MEPs also took part in an NGO-organised action which unveiled an enormous 100 metre-long list showing the names of the 17306 people who have died between 1990 and 2012 trying to enter Europe. This list was completed with painted handprints to symbolise the over 6000 people who have died since 2013, and in particular the over 1700 deaths since the beginning of 2015.
The group also welcomed two activists who work tirelessly to help bring migrants to safety: Father Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest who helps African migrants, and Hatem Gheribi from 'Watch the Med', an organisation which maps and monitors the deaths and violations of migrants’ rights at the maritime borders of the EU.
Both activists echoed the group's criticisms of the Commission and Council positions as totally inadequate.
GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group