News on migration and asylum from around the region - Nouvelles de la région sur les questions de migration et d'asile

Thursday, January 15, 2015

[European Commission] - Speech - Recent human smuggling incidents in the Mediterranean

13 January 2015
Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship
European Parliament Plenary Debate
I am standing here before you today because the European Commission is determined to take action. We all heard on what happened over Christmas and New Year. The lives of around 1,200 migrants, mostly Syrians, were saved when the Italian Coast Guard and Frontex, in the framework of Joint Operation Triton, rescued two cargo vessels: the Ezadeen and the Blue Sky M. These are just two examples of the more than 12 cargo ships that arrived in Europe since September. Of course, many more people have risked their lives coming in numerous small boats or difficult journeys via land borders.
This is unacceptable. Why?
  • Because we cannot allow ruthless smugglers to make a fortune through criminal acts, exploiting migrants looking for a safe passage to Europe.
  • Because people in need of protection should not be risking their lives to obtain this protection.
We all know the facts: Conflicts in our neighbourhood generate a constant influx of refugees towards Europe. This will not go away. On the contrary, if decisive and coordinated EU-wide action is not taken, the flows will continue.
In 2014, more than 276 000 migrants arrived in the EU representing an increase of 155% compared to the previous year. The recent events also show that smugglers are finding new routes to Europe and are employing new methods in order to exploit desperate people who are trying to escape conflict and war.
In order to respond to the constantly evolving strategies of smugglers, the European Union, its agencies and the Member States have to step-up their cooperation and common action in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility. Better coordination and a more comprehensive approach will help to address the roots of the current flows of irregular migrants and of smuggling.