Tuesday

16th Jul 2019

Heated words as EU tries to limit Africa migration

  • Mogherini said deportees from Libya freely "chose" to go home (Photo: ECHO/M.Eick)

EU efforts to reduce the amount of migrants coming from Africa are seeing “first results”, amid flaring political tension on immigration.

The numbers of people in transit in Niger had fallen drastically and voluntary deportations from Libya had more than doubled thanks to EU projects, Federica Mogherini, the head of the EU foreign service, said in Luxembourg on Monday (19 June).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

There were 5,000 people in Niger in May en route, most likely, to the EU, compared to 70,000 in the same month last year, she said.

The EU, the International Migration Organisation (IOM), and the UN had also sent 4,500 people back home from Libya in the first few months of this year compared to 2,000 in all of last year.

Mogherini said the deportees freely “chose” to go home and that the EU gave them logistical and financial support.

She added that the Libyan coastguard, with the help of EU advisors and boats, had recently rescued 16,000 migrants at sea.

The EU programmes in Africa and the Middle East come amid divisions in Europe on how to handle the situation.

Heated exchange with Germany

Foreign ministers from Austria and Hungary held a heated exchange on the issue with "a large EU country” at the EU meeting on Tuesday, Hungary’s Peter Szjiiarto told press afterward.

Szjiiarto, who was alluding to Germany, said it wanted to focus on refugee reception while they wanted to focus on security.

He said irregular migration from Africa and the Middle East must “stop” and that people who wanted to live in the EU should be screened at centres in the region instead of in Greece or Italy.

“Just imagine how many people’s lives could have been saved” if that had already been the case, he said, making a link between the refugees and terrorist attacks in the EU.

Austria’s Sebastian Kurz said: “The Mediterranean-Italy route must be closed to stop illegal migration”.

The Swiss-based IOM says 77,004 people came to the EU via the Mediterranean this year up to 14 June, compared to over 214,000 in the same period last year.

Another 1,828 people died en route, compared to 2,909 in the period last year.

The majority of current migrants, 65,450, were Africans going via Libya to Italy, while 7,967 were mostly Syrians and Iraqis going via Turkey to Greece.

'Advice and assist' mission

Germany has taken in the most migrants in the EU and supports mandatory quotas for burden-sharing with Greece and Italy.

But Hungary, together with the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia, has boycotted the EU migrant quotas, amid legal action in the EU court in Luxembourg and by the European Commission.

The EU on Monday attributed the new numbers in Niger and Libya to a mixed bag of projects in Africa and the Middle East.

These include so called migration compacts with five African states - Nigeria, Niger, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mali - which tie EU aid and trade to stemming flows of people.

They also include EU-funded security missions in Mali and Iraq designed to stabilise the countries and curb smuggling as well as humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria.

Mogherini said on Monday that the EU foreign service would consider the deployment of an “advice and assist” mission to work on reform of Iraqi security services “rapidly, within the coming months”.

Opinion

EU needs lasting solution to refugee crisis

If we continue with the failed approach of the last two years then this could become a systemic crisis that threatens the EU itself, writes Gianni Pittella.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  2. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  3. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  4. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  5. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  6. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  7. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money
  8. Von der Leyen's EU vote far from sure

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us