It is time to rethink migration politics and to ensure the protection of human rights and to save lives
The British government recently announced that it will be withdrawing support for EU Mediterranean migrant rescue operations, claiming that the operation simply encourages more migrants to attempt the dangerous crossing. Joyce Aneley who is the UK's minister of state of the foreign and commonwealth office said, "We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. We believe that they create an unintended 'pull factor', encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths".
The announcement coincides with the end of the Italian naval rescue operation 'Mare Nostrum' this week. Despite the operation saving more than 150,000 people attempting the crossing from north Africa to Europe across the straights of Sicily, the Italian government is ending the operation due to a lack of international support.
In Mare Nostrum's place, the EU border agency Frontex has assumed responsibility, with the commencement of a smaller naval rescue operation last weekend, 'Triton'. The operation covers the maritime area south of Sicily and the Pelagic islands, as well as the coastal areas around Calabria, southern Italy, and will be supported by EU member states and the commission.
Triton's focus will primarily be on border management as it lacks the resources to effectively carry out search and rescue missions. It was Frontex's request for resources from member states, that sparked the disagreement with the British government.
Laura Ferrara is a member of parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee.
The decision taken by the UK to withdraw the support to Mediterranean rescue operations is not in line with the principles of solidarity and cooperation that should be at the basis of EU politics. The migration emergency will not be solved if member states think only about their own country's interests: at present only few member states have worked to address the migration emergency in the Mediterranean.
A few days ago, Italy needed to stop the operation Mare Nostrum as it had become too expensive for Italy alone. Search and rescue operations are now left in a vacuum that Triton most likely will not manage to fill.
It is time to rethink migration politics. We must look for legal ways to access Europe that can halt the trafficking of human beings, reforming the European common asylum system in order to respond to humanitarian crises and prevent tragedies in the Mediterranean. The EU has to ensure the correct use of the European funds devoted to face the migration issue in all the member states to fight corruption and abuses. Also, more support has to be provided directly to third countries of origin and transit.
The European Union has a very important responsibility: to ensure the protection of human rights and to save lives, this should be the utmost priority. Human rights don't have borders and all member states are called on to cooperate to save lives.