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EU's new migrant deal is an 'historic failure', charities warn

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
EU's new migrant deal is an 'historic failure', charities warn
Picture taken on August 3, 2023 shows some of the 266 migrants rescued by members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms when they were crossing the Mediterranean sea on little boats off the Libyan coast. (Photo by Matias CHIOFALO / AFP)

The EU's new migration deal "will cost more lives at sea", the Sea-Watch rescue charity said Wednesday, in a statement it said was backed by more than a dozen NGOs.

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"Not one single life will be saved by this decision. This agreement is a historic failure and a bow to the right-wing parties of Europe," the charities' statement read.

Sea-Watch is one of several organisations operating ships in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants who try to reach Europe on small boats.

The central Med crossing, between North Africa and Italy and Malta, is the world's deadliest migration route, with more than 2,200 deaths this year alone, according to the UN.

The Sea-Watch statement -- also signed by the Alarm Phone migrant hotline, Sea-Eye and SOS Humanity among others -- says the EU reform agreement is "a turning point and one of the most blatant displays of disrespect to human
rights and the suffering along European borders".

"With the agreement on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the EU has decided to formalise a status quo where violence, neglect, torture and leaving people to die are every day practice," it said.

It said the bloc "missed the chance to agree on core mechanisms to put an end to the dying at sea".

"Instead, the EU institutions have decided to actively gut the rights of those seeking protection, legalising the violations of EU asylum law by the member states," it said.

The deal would "restrict access to protection in Europe by introducing fast-track asylum procedures at the border to speed up returns", it said.

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It said the plans would "isolate refugees from the rest of society, detain them in remote camps and prevent any form of integration".

It added that the agreement offered "no safe and legal routes" to seek protection in the European Union.

"All of this will force more people to try to flee by sea, and choose ever more dangerous routes. Again and again, more lives will be lost," it said.

The agreement still has to be formally adopted by the European Council and European Parliament.

EU member state Hungary has notably rejected a compulsory solidarity mechanism which is to be set up, providing for a certain number of migrant relocations spread between other EU countries.

Countries refusing to take in migrants would provide a financial or material contribution to those that do -- something Budapest fiercely opposes.

UN supports the deal

However the United Nations refugee chief hailed the agreement reached by EU countries and lawmakers to overhaul the bloc's laws on handling asylum seekers and migrants as "a very positive step".

"Congrats to the EU and @EU_Commission for reaching a political agreement," Filippo Grandi said on X, formerly Twitter.

"It is a very positive step. Now to its implementation! UNHCR stands ready to advise and support," added the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, saluting the "perseverance and leadership" of European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson in thrashing out the deal.

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Tom Bolton 2023/12/22 11:37
The EU and the UK cannot cope with the level of illegal immigrants trying to get to Europe and the UK by sea. The irony is - some would probably qualify as legal immigrants if they applied by the legal process. The people who are complaining about rights etc are correct in saying the real problem with the system is the time it takes to process the applications. The UK has the same problem.
bear 2023/12/21 23:18
Destroy the boats at port before they take migrants and save their life in a human way. Stop the slave/ human trade and the criminal enterprise that feed on it.

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