The initial burst of the current wave of migrations northwards across the Mediterranean began in January after an uprising in Tunisia forced the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In the wake of the fighting, refugees fleeing violence and destitution crossed the narrow straits between the Tunisian coast and the islands of Lampedusa, Malta, Pantelleria, and Sicily.
After the Egyptian crisis broke and the first unrest appeared in Libya, a more general flow of refugees began. Refugees moved both east and west, depending on the intensity of the fighting in a given location, and accumulated in refugee camps near the Egyptian-Libyan border or the Libyan-Tunisian border. The largest camps are in Tunisia just across the border from Libya, where hundreds of thousands of displaced persons are being held. Many of them are planning to cross the Mediterranean to what they hope will be a better life in Italy.
The first refugees were from Tunisia itself, but the latest waves originated in Libya. The migrants use Tunisia as a staging ground — conditions there are fairly good, since the camps are run mostly by Italian aid agencies — before continuing onwards to the Promised Land to the north. According to ANSAmed, nearly three thousand immigrants have been detained during the last few days in Tunisia after they crossed illegally from Libya. And those are just the ones who were caught — there’s no telling how many more made the crossing successfully and are now en route to the coast and the smugglers’ boats.
This is the background to the current emergency. Up until now the European establishment has tried to contain the crisis in Italy, with other nations of the EU — particularly France — insisting that despite the “borderless” nature of the Schengen Area, no migrants must cross the border from Italy into adjacent countries.
Over the last few weeks it has become obvious that this containment effort is unsustainable, and some other method of dealing with the migrants must be found. Representatives of the EU member states that border on the Mediterranean met yesterday in Nicosia to discuss their common problem. They made it clear that they expect help from the rest of the European Union:
(ANSAmed) — Nicosia, April 20 — The Mediterranean states of the EU have asked for more solidarity on behalf of the Union in addressing the disproportionate mass immigration flows caused by the dramatic developments in the Southern Mediterranean region.
In a joint communique they issued at the end of a meeting they held in Nicosia on Tuesday, as ANA reported, they state that current emergency situation with regards the massive illegal immigration flows and movements of possible beneficiaries of international protection brings upon the Mediterranean member states additional social, economic, administrative and demographic burden to that already prevailing.
Present at the Meeting were Cypriot Minister of the Interior Neoclis Sylikiotis, Greece’s Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis, Italian Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior Alfredo Mantovano, Minister of Justice and Home Affairs of Malta Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, Spanish Director General for International Relations and Immigration Arturo Avello Diaz Del Corral, French Ambassador in Cyprus Jean Marc Rives, as well as other high ranking representatives from all the above states responsible for immigration issues.
In their joint communique they also emphasise that the possible prolongation of such influxes of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers to the Mediterranean member states, can not be managed without the concrete and substantial support and solidarity from the rest of the EU’s member states. In addition, the ministers reaffirm the urgent necessity for the EU to provide concrete and immediate support to member states on the EU southern external borders.
In his statements after the Meeting, the Cypriot Minister said that the EU Mediterranean states faced with disproportionate mass immigration flows should not and cannot be left alone in dealing with the challenges caused by the recent political developments in the region. He pointed out that the Nicosia Meeting is part of the initiatives undertaken by the Mediterranean EU states to strengthen their common positions within the EU.
It isn’t clear whether the following initiative from Brussels was announced before or after the Nicosia meeting, but there’s no doubt that European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström and the other European commissioners were well aware of the sentiments expressed by the delegates in Cyprus yesterday.
What’s extraordinary about this latest response from the bureaucratic heart of the European Union is that it includes the declared intention of deliberately and pre-emptively importing the North African refugees into Europe.
That is, the Commission intends to surrender to the “Camp of the Saints” invasion before it is fully underway. According to ANSAmed:
EU Proposal: Redistribution of Refugees
(ANSAmed) — Brussels, April 20 — One of the proposals made by the European Commission is to start a programme for the redistribution of Libyan refugees in the camps at the border between Tunisia and Egypt to European countries, to avoid human trafficking.
The EC wants to make this proposal part of the ‘communication on immigration’ drafted by Cecilia Malmstrom, which will be formally approved by the European executive on May 4. After that it will be presented to the European Council and the European Parliament.
Sources in Brussels explain that the redistribution proposal wants to replicate what was done in 2009 and 2010 for around 10,000 Iraqi refugees in Syrian and Jordan, who have been distributed among several European countries, with funds that have been made available by the EU.
Economic migrants are not included in the group of refugees, only people who have a right to request asylum or who need international protection because they are unable to return to their country of origin. Many thousands of people from sub-Saharan Africa are in this situation, among the more than 470,000 who fled Libya at the start of the war.
So, in order to “avoid human trafficking”, the European Commissioners will become human traffickers themselves. And their low, low rates will drive all the other traffickers out of business.
And the model for the “redistribution proposal” is the recent resettlement of 10,000 culture enrichers from Iraq. Notwithstanding the fact that the “success” of the Iraq asylum program is debatable — ordinary Swedes and Finns may have a somewhat different opinion on the matter — the European Commission acknowledges that forty-seven times as many refugees are currently waiting to come to Europe.
And this is before the rest of the impoverished residents of North Africa learn about this golden opportunity and pack their bags to head for the coast.
And all during the worst global recession since 1933, with the Eurozone teetering on the brink of fiscal collapse.
How does Ms. Malmström envision this proposal turning out? How will all this cultural enrichment affect the financial well-being of the European Union? Where’s the upside?
Really, are these people that stupid? Or simply barking mad?
Or is there some benefit that will accrue to these EUniks in their plush digs in Brussels and Strasbourg?
What advantage can they see that is invisible to us ordinary peons?
Hat tip: Insubria.