More than 500 people have died or have disappeared this year on the migration route of the Atlantic coast. A piece of information that shows the need for the EU to reach an agreement on the new Pact for Migration and Asylum.
The issue has been debated at a high-level conference in the European Parliament.
¨¨ “The pandemic is going to increase the pressure. The Sahel is exploding. And this explosion can have a great impact in West Africa. Look what is happening in the Atlantic, hundreds of people try to reach the Canary Islands by one of the most dangerous routes in the world. And they are dying “, explains António Vitorino, director of the International Organization for Migration. “It is absolutely necessary for the European Union to give priority to search and rescue operations, to saving lives, to predictability of landings.”
The community strategy of increasing controls in the Mediterranean has diverted the migratory flow towards the Canary Islands.
Between August and November, almost 14,000 people arrived, ten times more than in the same period in 2019. And October was a tragic month for the western route: 222 people died or disappeared at sea.
The European Commission prepares an Action Plan in which it is committed to maintaining the balance between integration and repatriation.
“People who come to Europe legally need to know their rights and need to feel welcome. Those who are not eligible for asylum or international protection have to return home because this is the only way to break the vicious cycle of ruthless traffickers.” says Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
Following the wave of attacks in France and Austria, some European leaders have called for more border controls and stricter rules on integration. But not everyone agrees.
“The vast majority of terrorist attacks that have taken place in Europe over the last decade were committed by EU citizens, not immigrants. So I think it’s a very weak association of ideas,” says Olivia Sundberg Diez, an expert on migration policies of the European Policy Center. “There is already a lot of legislation focused on the protection of the EU borders, both for the Schengen borders and for the external border. The important thing is implementation. And currently we see significant gaps in terms of asylum, as it varies a lot from one Member State to another”.
The immigration issue continues to divide the EU, which this time seems to want to close internal gaps by betting on border control and repatriations.