31.03.2009

“Whoever sends hundreds of protection-seekers out on the stormy open sea without lifeboats is a criminal. But also those who try to block rescue routes to Europe at any cost, share responsibility for the death of boatpeople at sea”, says Karl Kopp, speaker for European affairs at PRO ASYL. “Hundreds of deaths off the Libyan coast are the result of a inhuman trafficking-industry, but also of a cynical European refugee policy.”

What else needs to happen and how many human beings need to loose their lives before Europe finally reacts and adjusts its devastating policy of deterrence? The cynical reaction of Italy’s rightist Minister of Interior, Roberto Maroni, was to state that from mid-May 2009, this rescue-route would be closed down permanently – due to joined patrolling with Libyan security forces. This constitutes a programme to increase the death-rate at sea.

The strategy to utilize Ghaddafi as Europe’s watchdog, tolerates massive human rights violations of refugees in Libya, including the detention of thousands, abuse, torture and rape.

In the light of the largest refugee-catastrophe in the history of the European Union, PRO ASYL calls upon the German government, the European Commission and the European Parliament to refrain from rhetoric rituals and to finally present a plan of how to rescue protection-seekers and boatpeople in Libyan transit.

Attempts of member state’s coastguards and FRONTEX missions to push back refugees’ boats must cease. Intended police cooperation and FRONTEX working agreements with third countries such as Libya have to be stopped.

The most effective approach to fight the booming trafficking industry and to save human lives is to provide safe and legal entry for protection-seekers. Protected Entry Procedures and humanitarian Visas for refugees in Libyan transit would be a first human gesture.

Karl Kopp

Director of European Affairs, Executive Member of ECRE (European Council on Refugees and Exiles)

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