Tear down the walls

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Will the deaths of almost 1000 people at sea create a change in the EU’s border policy? Nasra Ali, SSF (S-studenter), demands new policies from the EU, for safe and legal routes to Europe.

 

Yesterday almost 1000 people died of the coast of Europe, after a boat carrying
hundreds of migrants sank by Europe’s southern border. In Europe, refugees and migrants tend to feature in public discourse only as a problem to be managed. The focus remains on keeping people out rather than showing solidarity and helping people in need.

 

With the political situation in Europe today, with the rise of far-right wing parties, the urge for a new discourse and policies is acute. As the EU builds it’s walls higher and higher, migrants and refugees are increasingly taking to the Mediterranean waters in a desperate bid to reach safety and sanctuary in Europe. With the Lampedusa tragedy of October 2013 in mind, in which at least 366 people lost their lives while trying to reach Europe, it is shown that the EU has failed to make a genuine commitment to rescue at sea and made no progress towards creating safe and legal routes into the EU.

 

Over the recent years, the news of migrant deaths at sea has become so regular that they sometimes appears as inevitable. According to the International Organisation of Migration, only this year more than 900 people are believed to have lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean.

 

We can’t shut our eyes for the deaths of hundreds of people during their voyages across the Mediterranean sea. The right to seek asylum is written in the Universal Declaration of Human rights. Instead we put up barriers to people who need protection. This insane policy must be reversed urgently. Instead of investing more and more resources into FRONTEX and pushing back people that needs our help from the European borders, we need to create procedures that are both safe and legal.

 

The only way to decrease the death of hundreds of people outside Europe’s borders is a change in European Asylum System. We have to create safe and legal routes to Europe. Safe and legal routes could include an increase in resettlement quotas, wider access to humanitarian visas, and facilitating family reunification. We also urge the EU Member States to ensure responsibility sharing for people rescued and disembarked, limiting the need for irregular secondary movements within the EU. This could be achieved by the Member States by also bringing together families rather than applying the general rule under the EU’s Dublin Regulation where the Member State of first arrival is responsible for processing asylum claims.

 

We need to react and show solidarity, because that is what the EU should be, or is – at least on the paper. Lets hope that the death of hundreds of people will effect the outcome of Monday’s emergency meeting with the High Representative, Mogherini and the EU foreign and home affairs ministers.

 

Nasra Ali
SSF (S-studenter)

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