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Migrant Crisis and the EU Migration Plan - What is it about?

www.globalinfo.nl

As the European Union (EU) is about the launch its long term plan for imiigration and the ‘migrant crisis’, the leaked EU policy document shows the hypocrisies of our rulers and the repeated denial by the EU of its responsibilities in the root-cause of this crisis and the ongoing civilian deaths.

The Mediterranean migrant crisis is not over. For the moment, the temporary solution of increasing humanitarian rescue missions, put in place by the EU seem to have calmed down the debates and the flow of reports of further tragedies, but the problem is far from over and the real issues facing the migrants are not resolved.

The EU is about the launch its plan of actions which are developed in Brussels, behind closed doors without much debate on it. According to a leaked document, published by the Irish Times, the proposed actions have far stretching consequences for both the European citizens and the migrants. 

The Final plan is to be published on Wednesday May, 13. 

The leaked document(*) provides an insight to the real intentions of European governments. Far from addressing the root-causes of the crisis and providing a set of humanitarian solutions, the proposals in the document are designed to deflect the attention from the real issues the migrants are facing. Overall, the fleeing migrants are seen as a ‘burden’ for the EU and not as people who try to escape from horrific conditions that the EU also has had a part in creating.

The EU plan is very problematic on many fronts and the proposed measures will introduce further problems into the ongoing migrant crisis.

The highlight in the document is the new resettlement plan. This is a EU-wide operation that aims to distribute and settle migrants in EU countries. The distribution of the migrants will be according to a quota system.

Despite all the positivism in the document about this new model, it is neither a great solution nor a smooth and all agreed process.

Firstly, only a percentage of the migrants will be re-settled.

The UNHCR has endorsed a target of 20,000 resettlement places for the EU per year by the year. That is 20,000 per year across 28 countries. This is a very comical number.

The exact numbers for the proposed settlement quotas are not clear. It looks like the EU countries will be at competition with each other to accept the least possible number of migrants.

By the end of May, the Commission will make a Recommendation proposing an EU-wide resettlement scheme to offer xxx places. This scheme will cover all Member States, with distribution criteria that can be found in the Annex, such as GDP, size of population, unemployment rate and past numbers of asylum seekers and will take account of the efforts already made on a voluntary basis by Member States. The EU budget will provide dedicated funding of an extra €50 million in 2015/2016 to support this scheme.” - EU Document, p. 4

Secondly, Britain has strongly rejected the EU settlement program and refuses to accept any migrants as per the EU proposal.

There are other governments who are ready to follow Britain. Unless all of the 28 countries cooperate, this model will not work and it will turn into a total chaos. There is little chance Britain will change its position.

NO PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED FROM THE SAME LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT CREATED IT

As Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. It is this ‘consciousness’ of the EU one has to understand and challenge to clearly see the dead-end EU proposals that will inflict further misery at sea and in faraway places, as well as fuel fear, scapegoating of and racism towards migrants at home.

The EU action plan has a lot of details and proposals but the overall solution promoted can be summarized as follows:

1.       EU ON MIGRANTS: TEMPORARY HUMANITARIANISM, PERMANENT INHUMANITY

2.       LACK OF HONESTY AND HISTORIC CONTEXT. DENYING ALL RESPONSIBILITY: REFUGEES OF WAR ON TERROR, NATIONAL INTERESTS AND EU FOREIGN POLICY

3.       MILITARIZATION OF THE ‘SOLUTION’: SEND IN THE ARMY, YET AGAIN!

4.       NOT UNDERSTANDING THE REAL ROOT-CAUSE: HUMAN TRAFFICKERS

5.       BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE: ALL OTHER COUNTRIES ARE AT FAULT

6.       GLORIFIED DEPORTATIONS: READMISSIONS AND OUTSOURCING THE ‘PROBLEM’ TO OTHER COUNTRIES

7.       FORTRESS EUROPE: FRONTEX AND KEEPING MIGRANTS OUT

BACKGROUND

In November 2014, despite the calls from various human rights and refugee support groups that this will cause the death of many more migrants, the EU had cancelled the search and rescue mission ‘Mare Nostrum’.

We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Thegovernment believedthere was “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths” – British Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay, October 2014

The 900 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean were killed by British government policy. We were warned. We knew the dangers. We let 'migrants' drown” - Dan Hodges, The Telegraph, 20 April 2015.

Record number of migrants expected to drown in Mediterranean this year. In the first quarter of 2015, nearly 500 migrants have drowned, ten times as many as in the same period of 2014, leading to fears of a record death rate this year” - Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian, 1 April 2015

The outcome was as feared. In the first 3 month of 2015, there was a tenfold increase in migrant deaths, compared to the same period in 2014. By the end of April 2015 the total number of deaths at sea exceeded 2000.

1. A EU ON MIGRANTS: TEMPORARY HUMANITARIANISM #MigrantLivesMatter

With 2 major incidents that killed more than 1200 migrants and the public outcry that followed, the EU found itself cornered and had to act fast.

There were a series of ‘crisis’ meetings by the EU leaders to discuss the wider action plan but as an immediate measure they had to reverse last year’s policy of cancelling the search and rescue operations. They have increased the scope and budget of Frontex and Triton operations to run search and rescue missions.

Without saying so, this was a clear acceptance by the EU leaders that the cancellation of ‘Mare Nostrum’ was wrong and that it was a very significant factor in the huge number of deaths in 2015.

The popular demand to reintroduce the search and rescue missions has won, at least for the moment.

1. B EU ON MIGRANTS: PERMANENT INHUMANITY #MigrantLivesDontMatter

While - including the EU leaders - everyone agrees on the existence of a humanitarian crisis, and that something must to be done, the real issues and long term EU actions are not as clear and as humanitarian as the sentiments express on the streets.

Following from the EU Joint Foreign and Home Affairs Council meeting in late April 2015 and the draft EU 10-Point Action Planthat came out of this meeting, the EU is now preparing to act on the ‘other’ long term initiatives.

Unlike the temporary search and rescue missions, the long term actions are not widely visible by the public and these plans continue to be developed behind closed doors without any proper debate.

There are a lot issues and complex problems with the EU’s plan which is to be launched on Wednesday, May 13. A leaked document published by the Irish Times details the real intent of EU: Not to offer a genuine humanitarian welcome to migrants but to ensure - at all cost - to prevent their arrival, while denying all responsibility in the root-cause of the migrant crisis.

Furthermore, when it comes to long terms actions, the tone of ‘humanitarianism’ is swiftly replaced with the language of ‘financial burden’, ‘national interests’, ‘risks’, ‘dangers’ and ‘border security’, ‘military operations’, etc.

2. LACK OF HONESTY AND HISTORIC CONTEXT, DENYING ALL RESPONSIBILITY: REFUGEES OF WAR ON TERROR, NATIONAL INTERESTS AND EU FOREIGN POLICY

While the document clearly identifies the serious issues the fleeing migrants are facing in their home countries it makes no historic reference to why and how these conditions were created at first place.

Civil war, persecution and climate change all feed directly and immediately into migration, so the prevention and mitigation of these threats is of primary importance for the migration debate” - EU Document, p. 7

Throughout the document the references are made to man-made problems without the specifics of how-when-who and why these happened.

The dishonesty comes from the fear of answering these questions because the answers go against the ‘national interests’ agenda and against the interests of our big businesses. Because such questions expose the things our rulers did in countries where the migrants are fleeing from.

·         Why do we have a civil war in Iraq? When did it start? Who caused it? How did it escalate?

·         Why is there a huge poverty in Nigeria?

·         Who persecuted the protestors demanding democracy in Qatar, Bahrain, and Egypt? Who were their friends? Who supported the regimes?

·         Where did the Saudis get their weapons to attack Yemen and potentially cause up 20 million refugees?

·         Why is Libya a failed state without any ‘law and order’? Who promised and failed to bring democracy to Libya? How much was spent to create the Libya of today?

·         Where did the regional dictators get their weapons that are used to oppress and kill their people?

·         Who prevents the ending of climate change and the related mass poverty/migration

·         Who started and supported the war on terror? How many refugees did it create? What was the outcome of it? How many migrant did the ‘war on terror’ campaign create?

When we hear about civil war, persecution and climate change and don’t hear about the answers to questions like above, we are expected to assume that somehow these problems are inherent in the countries and nations the migrants are fleeing from and that the EU governments have nothing to do with the creation of these conditions.

The 16 page EU document is a clear evidence that the EU is washing its hands of any responsibility for the real causes of why people fleeing from their home countries…

3. MILITARISATION OF THE ‘SOLUTION’: SEND IN THE ARMY, YET AGAIN!

A very dangerous and serious item in the EU plan – as reported by the Irish Times – is the militarization of the ‘solution’, in other words military intervention in the Mediterranean. According to the report, the EU is in the process of drawing up plans for military attacks in Libya to stop the flow of people. For this, Britain is reportedly drafting a UN Security Council resolution that would authorize the armed attacks on vessels in Libya’s territorial waters.  “It would come under Italian command, have the participation of about 10 EU countries - including Britain, France, Spain and Italy - and could also drag in NATO” - Irish Times, 11 May 2015

Using UN as a legal cover, the EU armies are clearly scheduled to go into Libya for the second time in 5 years. The first military intervention in 2011 – as admitted by the European leaders – created the failed state we see today. Libya is in chaos and since the end of the EU/NATO’s failed military mission, the European mainstream media and politician have forgotten about it.

A new military adventure will be an open-ended and bloody affair. This ‘war on migrant boats’ will not solve any problems in the long run. Migrants who have no other choice will take further risks and take alternative routes into Europe. A conflict zone with various armed groups on one side and the EU/NATO armies on the other will ultimately cost the lives of more innocent civilians. Such military operations will potentially galvanize support to radical groups in Libya who would use any excuse to extend their influence.  Military operations on civilian vessels – irrelevant of whether they are legal or illegal – will kill civilians. Such operations will not solve the problem the fleeing refugees are facing in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Nigeria, Mali, Sudan etc.

This is just another insane ‘SEND IN THE ARMY’ madness and has nothing to do with addressing the real issues.

4. NOT UNDERSTANDING THE REAL ROOT-CAUSE: HUMAN TRAFFICKERS

There are enough highly paid politicians and bureaucrats in high places in EU who clearly know the real root-cause of the migrant problem but don’t want to admit it. To anyone with common sense they seem as if they don’t understand the issues, but they clearly do. The question isn’t whether they understand it or not, but why they need to hide the facts and deflect from the real issues.

It seems that, the EU sees the human traffickers as the main reason for migrant flow. If there were no traffickers, there would be no migrant crisis.

The criminal networks which exploit vulnerable migrants must be targeted. The High Representative/Vice President (HR/VP) has already presented options for possible Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations to systematically identify capture and destroy vessels used by smugglers. Such action under international law will be a powerful demonstration of the EU's determination to act.” - EU Document, p. 3

 “When we say we are in the presence of slavery we are not using the word just for effect” - Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi compared the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean to the African slave trade of centuries ago.

Destroy migrant smugglers' boats before they leave port… There is a case for using Special Forces to destroy migrant vessels before they leave port- Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown’s super original (!) solution to the crisis

The traffickers are not the cause of the migrant flow. They are opportunists exploiting a lucrative situation: Migrants who simply have to flee to get to safety end up using traffickers in the absence any legal, safe ways to do so. For EU leaders human trafficking may be a moral debate but for the fleeing migrants they are a necessary evil.

Migrants die because the only option for safety is to be an illegal migrant in the hands of traffickers and at the mercy of killer waves of the open seas.

Imagine yourself in Syria, Libya, Gaza, Iraq, Yemen or Afghanistan. What would you do to stay alive and to save your children from certain death?

The ultimate answer to EU’s obsession with traffickers comes from a migrant who is planning to start his journey to Europe:

“Even if there was a government decision to drown the migrant boats, there will still be people going by boat because the individual considers himself dead already,” says Abu Jana, who will make for Europe in the coming weeks. “I don’t think that even if they decided to bomb migrant boats it would change peoples’ decision to go.”

5. BLAMING EVERYONE ELSE: ALL OTHER COUNTRIES ARE AT FAULT

According to EU, another reason why migrants can make it ‘so easily’ to Europe, are the 3rd party countries that simply don’t do enough to keep Europe free from these migrants.

             “Working with third countries to tackle migration upstream

The EU can also take immediate action to intervene upstream in regions of origin and of transit. The Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) will work together with partner countries to put in place concrete measures to process migrants before they reach the EU's borders.” - EU Document, p. 5

Migration will become a specific component of ongoing Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions already deployed in countries like Niger and Mali, which will be strengthened on border management. A dedicated summit will be organized in Malta in the autumn with key partners, including the African Union, to develop a common approach with the region addressing the causes of irregular migration and the protection of people in need, as well as smuggling and trafficking of people.” - EU Document, p. 5

Basically, the EU plan is to stop migrant before they become a European humanitarian responsibility. If the migrants can’t cross the African borders and reach the Mediterranean shores, there is simply no problem for Europe. The further the problem is the smaller it will look like when looking from London, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels etc.

6. GLORIFIED DEPORTATIONS: READMISSIONS AND OUTSOURCING THE ‘PROBLEM’ TO OTHER COUNTRIES

The EU is an expert of the neoliberal free-market approach of outsourcing. It is this skill they are planning to apply to the migrant crisis: Outsource the problem.

“First, The EU should step up its support to the countries bearing the brunt of displaced refugees. Regional Development and Protection Programmes will be set up or deepened, starting in North Africa and the Horn of Africa. €30 million will be made available in 2015/2016 and should be complemented by additional contributions from Member States.” - EU Document, p. 5

It seems there is nothing a few millions won’t buy. It looks like a cheap deal with 3rd party countries to keep the migrant problem far away from EU borders. For €30 million in 2 years, the problem is outsourced and solved! That’s just over 1 million per EU country. Indeed, a very cheap deal for the EU.

“Second, a pilot multi-purpose centre will be set up in Niger by the end of the year. Working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UNHCR and the Niger authorities, the centre will combine the provision of information, local protection and resettlement opportunities for those in need. Such centres in countries of origin or transit would help to provide a realistic picture of the likely success of migrants” - EU Document, p. 5

The other word for resettlement opportunities is “detention centers”. This is the same model that the Australian government is using. Again, the aim here is to keep the migrants out of EU borders. So long the migrants are kept outside the EU governments can wash their hands of their responsibilities.

“One of the incentives for irregular migrants is the knowledge that the EU's return system – to return irregular migrants or those whose asylum applications are refused – works imperfectly. Smuggling networks often play on the fact that relatively few return decisions are enforced – only 39.2% of return decisions issued in 2013 were effectively enforced. To increase the enforcement rate, we first need to ensure that third countries fulfil their international obligation to take back their own nationals residing irregularly in Europe. The EU should be ready to use all leverage and incentives at its disposal. The recently agreed Pilot Project on Return will offer an important practical demonstration of the way forward. The EU will help third countries to meet their obligations by offering support such as capacity building for the management of returns, information and awareness campaigns, and support for reintegration measures. The Commission will also revise its approach to readmission agreements, prioritizing the main countries of origin of irregular migrants”

“Pilot Multi-purpose Centre established in Niger by the end of 2015”

A good example of where there is much to be gained from stepping up cooperation is Turkey. Since the beginning of 2014, Turkey has received €79 million to contribute to its efforts to deal with the pressure on its refugee management system and to help prevent hazardous journeys in the Eastern Mediterranean. Deploying a dedicated Frontex liaison officer in Turkey will take cooperation one step further.” - EU Document, p. 9

EU is increasingly eager to sign more readmission agreements with 3rd party countries which will give them a channel to deport migrants back. Readmission agreements are for the purpose of sending back the migrants to the last country of departure before they entered the EU.

The EU has promised easier EU travel/entry visa for Turkish citizens and in return Turkey has signed the readmission agreement. This means, that all migrants crossing into Europe from Turkey will be deported back to Turkey.

This is horse trading and it is a typical cover-up for deportations.  With this agreement EU will be able to deport migrants back to other countries and again free itself from humanitarian/legal responsibilities. The safety and wellbeing of the deported migrants will not be of any interest to EU leaders.

7. FORTRESS EUROPE: FRONTEX AND KEEPING MIGRANTS OUT

Frontex is not a humanitarian aid or support agency but a military agency of the EU that is operating to thicken the EU borders. Temporarily Frontex has been given new roles to take part in search and rescue operations but the agencies structure is not geared for this and it won’t be a long term assignment.

A stronger Frontex will only serve the purpose of fortress Europe. The document does not hide this fact.

 “Returns: While the EU has common rules on return, it lacks effective operational cooperation. Frontex is currently offering considerable support to Member States, but its mandate must be reinforced to increase its capacity to provide comprehensive operational assistance. Currently, Frontex can only coordinate return missions but not initiate its own. On the basis of the ongoing evaluation to be concluded this year, the Commission will propose to amend the Frontex legal basis to strengthen its role on return.” EU Document, p. 9

This is a clear admission that Frontex will be empowered to on the spot deport incoming coming migrants.

“The Commission will set up a new 'Hotspot' approach, where the European Asylum Support Office, Frontex and Europol will work on the ground with frontline Member States to swiftly identify, register and fingerprint incoming migrants.”  - EU Document, p. 6

What Frontex and Europol are planned to do has no relevance to helping the migrants. This is an exercise to criminalize migration and create a database of ‘criminals’ for the use of EU agencies.

Amnesty International puts it well:

The EU and its member states have constructed an increasingly impenetrable fortress to keep irregular migrants out – irrespective of their motives, regardless of the desperate measures that many are prepared to take to reach its shores. In order to “defend” its borders, the EU has funded sophisticated surveillance systems, given financial support to member states at its external borders, such as Bulgaria and Greece, to fortify their borders and created an agency to coordinate a Europe-wide team of border guards to patrol EU frontiers.

Individual member states themselves are taking drastic measures to stop irregular arrivals. Migrants and refugees are being expelled unlawfully from Bulgaria, Greece and Spain, without access to asylum procedures and often in ways that put them at grave risk. They are ill-treated by border guards and coastguards. In addition, some EU countries are using the threat of lengthy detention as a deterrent for those thinking about coming to Europe.2

An asylum-seeker is someone who left their country seeking protection but has yet to be recognized as a refugee. During the time an asylum claim is being examined, asylum-seekers must not be forced to return to their country of origin.

The measures employed by the EU do not stop at its actual borders but extend deep into neighbouring countries. The EU and member states have sought to create a buffer zone by entering into cooperation arrangements with neighbouring countries that help them block irregular migration towards Europe. They have funded reception and detention centres for migrants and refugees in countries where there are serious concerns about access to asylum procedures in detention, such as Turkey and Ukraine.3 They have put in place readmission agreements with countries of origin and transit, allowing those who manage to arrive in Europe to be sent back more easily.” - The Human Cost of Fortress Europe - Human Rights Violations against Migrants and Refugees at Europe’s Borders

 

(*) http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2077104-commission-migration.html#document/p2

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