AEDH

Aquarius: EU and Member States must stop treating migrants as “hot potatoes”

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Brussels, 13 June 2018 – Stupefied and worried by this modern Exodus, we see on the horizon the infinite cabotage of this boat which status of lifeguard becomes one of burden. Although Rinaldo Melucci and Luigi de Magistris, the respective mayors of Taranto and Naples, declared to be ready to welcome Aquarius migrants, the new Italian government, largely committed to the xenophobic and racist ideas of Matteo Salvini, flex its weak muscles and refuses the entry of Aquarius into Italian ports. AEDH knew that nothing was to be expected from a government whose partners had announced during the election campaign that it would not respect human rights.

Today, the new Spanish government announced that Spain is ready to welcome the “shipwrecked persons just fighting for their rights” in the port of Valencia. AEDH welcomes this act and hopes that it will set an example for all Member States. AEDH recommends this welcome to be unconditional, and that having done the main thing, i.e. save lives, the government of Pedro Sanchez stands out by offering dignified conditions of stay. We would also like this new government to put an end to the push-back operations of migrants coming to Ceuta and Melilla.

But what about the other countries concerned by “Mediterranean affairs”? What are they doing? Malta refuses to welcome Aquarius but tries to give itself good conscience by sending food, France hides behind a hazardous interpretation of the Law of the Sea against Humanitarian Law to stand still and wait 48 hours until another country volunteers…

AEDH regrets to note that the European Union is standing in the shadow of Member States. Our association hopes that the European Council will at last play its guiding role in the European policy-making and condemn and effectively redress the unworthy attitude of the Member States, who align their migratory policies on those being called for by extreme right parties.

AEDH strongly condemns the Italian government’s refusal to allow the migrant ship to enter any of its ports. For a long time, AEDH also opposes Poland’s, Hungary’s, Slovakia’s and the Czech Republic’s refusal to accept refugees. Nor does it accept the pretences of many other governments, proclaiming that they will welcome refugees, while at the same time in reality imposing restrictive rules that will lead to their expulsion. This is particularly the case in France, where we find dead bodies of migrants following the snow melt, or in Belgium, where the police can shoot migrants.

AEDH asserts that not only is the refusal of Member States and the Commission to repeal the Dublin Regulation a serious violation of the rights of individuals, but also a stupidity which traps Member States at the EU external borders in an impossible dilemma, forcing them to choose between receiving thousands of migrants or pushing them back. Because of the Dublin Regulation, the refugee reception system has become purely and simply a means of outsourcing the influx of migrants to countries of first entry, in particular Italy and Greece. If the Mediterranean is so important, this is due to the fact that the road through Turkey has been blocked by the despicable agreement with this country, while cowardly turning a blind eye to Erdogan’s policy that tramples the fundamental rights of so many of Turkey’s citizens.

AEDH considers all Member States collectively responsible for the Italian disaster. It calls on all its member associations and all citizens of the EU to take action to change policy.

This is the purpose of the recently launched ECI “We are a welcoming Europe, let us help!”. Sign, make people sign, share, show your support to those children, women, men who thought that they finally boarded on a ship of hope, on the Aquarius, symbol of our solidarity.

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