European leaders meeting today at the Paris migration summit continue to present migration as a threat rather than recognizing its benefits. They are playing into the hands of populist fear mongers who falsely claim that Europe is unable to cope with the arrival of people to its shores and who demonise search and rescue missions that save lives in the Mediterranean.
The Italian government's steps to limit NGO capacity to engage in search and rescue contravene the existing international code of conduct. Such inappropriate measures are an attack on humanitarian principles. They falsely portray people who save lives as villains.
At the end of today's summit, it is clear that Europe is yet again postponing real solutions for real people. Their short-term approach ignores the fact that Europe needs migrants: Italy alone will need an estimated 1.6 million regular migrants over the next decade to sustain its welfare and pension schemes.
We call on European States to:
- Stop outsourcing EU border controls to Libya, trapping more and more people in a living hell;
- invest additional resources to ensure adequate scrutiny of human rights practices by Libya and other Mediterranean states;
- avoid any conditionality of aid linked to border management;
- acknowledge the essential role of civil society in saving lives at sea and supporting integration of migrants in European societies;
- recognise that migration is a structural phenomenon that should be addressed both in the short term, protecting and promoting human rights and the dignity of all people on the move and in the longer term, creating safe and legal migration routes to Europe.