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EU dithering leading to more migrant deaths – Reilly

20 April, 2015

Sinn Féin Senator and EU Affairs Spokesperson Kathryn Reilly has criticised the EU border agency Frontex for the mass scaling back of operations to stem the flow of illegal migration in the Mediterranean which has seen the deaths of hundreds of migrants this year alone. Senator Reilly went on to say that while European states watched the destabilisation of many states in the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring, it must now deal with the ensuing outward migration from the region.

Senator Reilly said:

“The Italian government in 2013, in the aftermath of the Lampedusa disaster, commenced Operation Mare Nostrum which is believed by many, such as the European Council on Refugees and Exiles to have saved thousands of lives. Ultimately, this operation proved too costly for one member state to sustain and the Italians sought financial assistance from the EU to continue this border protection service which was providing substantial efforts.

“The EU refused and in its place Operation Triton was established and provided by Frontex, which is the agency that manages EU border control. Frontex scaled back the numbers of personnel and ships in the region drastically with tragic and predictable results. We have seen a tenfold increase in the number of migrants dying on the voyage across the Mediterranean.

“There must be a rapid influx of funding and personnel before much people die. Thousands are fleeing the power vacuum left by the Arab Spring, which in many states has led to a huge increase in Islamist militancy. European states were quick to call for regimes to fall, but now we are seeing the practical outcomes of such action and we are failing to react.

“While the EU dithers and refuses to step up operations, people are dying. It is that simple. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on illegal migration and the inward flow of migrants to European shores, we cannot stand back and allow people to drown in their hundreds within sight of Europe. Common decency calls for a dramatic review of our policy in Mediterranean border security is needed.” 

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