BERLIN, JULY 28 – According to an architect of the 2016 migration deal between the EU and Turkey, the European Union should strike deals with West African countries to stem the influx of migrants reaching Italy from Libya.
Gerald Knaus, director of the European Stability Initiative think tank, told Politico that many West African migrants risked the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean because they knew they would not be sent home for years — if at all — due to legal and bureaucratic delays, even if their requests for asylum in Europe were rejected. “Every migrant from West Africa who survives the dangerous journey from Libya to Italy remains in Europe for years afterwards — regardless of the outcome of his or her asylum application,” Knaus said in an interview to the European edition of the online newspaper.
To accelerate the deportations of rejected asylum seekers to West African countries that are considered safe, the EU needs to forge agreements with their governments, he said. The Central Mediterranean route between Libya and Italy — dubbed the “deadliest migration route in the world” by Amnesty International — has become the primary means for migrants reaching Europe this year. More than 93,000 have arrived in Italy in 2017 so far — an increase of 17 percent on the same period last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“At the moment, Italy might seem like it’s most immediately affected, but Germany is just as affected with most of the [asylum seekers] planning to travel on to Germany,” Knaus said. His plan, which he has so far pitched to government representatives in Italy, France, Germany, Malta, Sweden and the Netherlands, includes the European Council appointing a special envoy, ideally a former head of government, to negotiate the deals with African countries.
“There needs to be someone similar to [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel in early 2016 — with similar contact and access to governments — who is every day in charge of thinking about how to solve this problem,” he said. (@OnuItalia)