GSD acknowledges the Malta Declaration by the members of the European Council on the external aspects of migration with a specific focus on addressing the Central Mediterranean route yesterday. We agree that a key element of a sustainable migration policy is to ensure effective control of EU external border and stem illegal flows into the EU. However, it is also important to remember that border management alone will not deter people from developing countries, and especially those faced with civil wars and violence, from seeking safety and security in the EU regardless of the risks to their lives.
At a time of rising political tensions on the matter of refugees in Europe, it is crucial to remember that the vast majority of refugees and migrants live in the developing world. More importantly, neither group chooses to willingly leave their whole life behind to seek new opportunities in the EU. More often than not, these suffering refugees are forced out of their homes and lives by a combination of war, human rights abuses, violence and terrorism as is the case in Syria, Eritrea and Somalia but to name a few.
While EU efforts to stabilise Libya are commendable, we agree with the UN’s Human Rights Chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, that it is not yet physically and politically a safe place to return any refugee or migrant to. There is a great amount of harrowing documentation regarding the physical and economic abuse of refugees and migrants in Libya, including Somalis, by gangs, smugglers and terrorists who continue to capitalise on the country’s weak institutions and political divisions. Returning anyone to Libya in its current state, without genuine and enforceable safeguards, will be a breach of the values of human dignity and Human Rights Law which the EU prides itself on.
Apprehending and prosecuting human smugglers is an important component of turning the tide of migration from outside the EU. However, a better strategy is to support and strengthen peace in conflict affected states like Somalia, Syria and Libya (itself) and ensure that the Valletta Action Plan delivers real transformative development in source and transit countries so that the young, bright and capable people whose talents developing nations need so desperately to progress can see a future for themselves at home. In addition, legal and cost effective avenues for travel between the EU and the developing world must be explored seriously and then implemented at the earliest opportunity.
Global Somali Diaspora (GSD)
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