Over the past few months we have repeatedly reported about how dangerous it would be if the Libyan route were to reopen for the refugees.
During the second half of 2015, we experienced an unprecedented population movement from Turkey to Europe, mainly Germany. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants crossed through Greece and the Balkans to reach Central European states. This became a serious threat to European cohesion. Populisms, nationalism and xenophobic sentiments re-emerged in some countries of Europe.
The entire European achievement of the Schengen Area was at stake after a number of EU member states questioned the capability of the Greek authorities to stop the waves of refugees and migrants heading towards Europe.
Focussing on Greece’s capability to honour its participation in the Schengen Area, we have forgotten about another mass invasion of Europe that occurred just a year ago.
Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants arrived from Libya to Italy in 2014 and 2015, provoking a first shock to the unprepared European structures.
Now, the EU has reached an agreement with Turkey in order to block the arrival of refugees and migrants from its shores. But the Libya route now seems to be opening again.
EU Council President Donald Tusk told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on April 13 that “the numbers of would-be migrants in Libya are alarming,” and that member states should be ready to help Italy and Malta should they request it.
According to official estimations from Brussels, there are some 15,000 people, all of them migrants from sub-Saharan countries, who are now ready to cross the Mediterranean Sea heading to Italy and possibly Malta.
Since last March, several hundred migrants have been rescued by the Libyan or Italian coast guards.
It is also estimated that some 1 million people entered Europe in search of a better future last year alone. But the movement has not stopped and the problem is growing for European security and the economy.
Now, the case with Libya is completely different than the one with Turkey. For instance, Turkey has a government with which the EU can negotiate and sign an agreement. Libya does not.
Observing the mass movement toward Europe and the desire of millions of people to come here, one cannot avoid thinking about this – no matter how harsh it is.
All the while, the news about the Panama Papers and the financial havens offshore is still fresh in our mind. On the hand, we are confronted by widespread misery, disease, famine and drought – in a few words, a life with no future.
And Europe, facing a mass migration movement, has searched for a solution by paying a neighbouring country, in this case Turkey.
Is this the right way to search for solutions on this side of the border? Wouldn’t it be more effective and wiser trying to find solutions there? Not waiting for them here, but spending our taxpayer’s money correctly in order to create conditions that would keep migrants in their homeland.