Lampedusa: Stop fighting refugees!

The European Left Party (EL) is horrified and deeply concerned by the tragic deaths of at least 300 refugees in the Mediterranean close to the island of Lampedusa.

This deaths are not the result of a natural catastrophe but the direct result of a policy that treats refugees as a security risks and forgets that they are vulnerable human beings in need of help. The EU has waged a kind of war against people seeking shelter and a better life and build up a fortress controlled by FRONTEX and soon monitored by EUROSUR. As a consequence of this securitarian logic at least 20.000 refugees died while trying to cross the Mediterranean. The EL condemns the EU’s migration policies and fights for a Europe that gives shelter to those in need and for a Europe without FRONTEX and EUROSUR.
The increasingly dramatic situation of migrants and refugees in and around the Mediterranean is also a consequence of the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011. In the past European Union representatives had no scruples in closing cooperation agreements with regimes like Tunisia under Ben Ali and Libya under Gaddafi’s rule in order to externalize the border controls and to prevent refugees and migrants to reach Europe. The EL has always criticized this cooperation agreements and it has opposed NATO’s war against Libya.
This war has made the already horrible situation for refugees in Libya even worse. Under the Gaddafi regime migrants had been subject to humiliating practices, to torture and rape in detention camps, built with money provided by the European Union. Today those detention camps are still in place, and the situation is even worse than before, they are more overcrowded, lack basic hygiene and there is often no perspective for ever leaving those camps. Those who are not detained are hunted by hundreds of militias formed out of former rebel groups. Still about 20.000 people manage to start their perilous journey over the Mediterranean from the Libyan shores. Among those risking their lives on the Sea are many Syrians fleeing a murderous civil war, but who nonetheless they are not issued with visa by EU member states and are therefore unable to enter the EU legally. Fighting humane traffickers, as the EU Commission has announced, will not save lives – as long as the doors for legal ways to enter Europe are closed for most refugees. The EU and it’s member states have to guarantee safe and legal entry into the EU for refugees and migrants.
Better surveillance also will not help people as the Mediterranean already is one of the closest monitored maritime regions. Many refugees died although their calls for help had verifiably been received by the ships and airplanes by the military or the coast guard. Fishermen and others who had helped passengers in danger of drowning prosecuted and their ships have been confiscated. The EL applauds those fishermen who acted on the obligation to rescue persons in danger and calls for the EU member states to stop criminalizing helpers.
The EL calls for a fair and human policy towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, that includes the end of the Dublin regulations. We support all steps that aim for concrete sea-rescue plans that will help save the lives of migrants at sea and we oppose all strategies that militarize and externalize the fight against migration.