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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Lampedusa Tragedy: EU border policies must focus on saving lives, says MEP

LONDON’S Green MEP Jean Lambert has called on new EU rules governing sea borders to put saving lives ahead of deterring migrants in the wake of last week’s tragedy, which saw at least 200 African refugees lose their lives just yards from the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Ms Lambert, Green Party Immigration spokesperson, said:

“The EU cannot continue to allow tragic loss of human life in its coastal waters.
“Despite the outpouring of rhetoric from ministers and bigger political groups in response to the latest tragedy in Lampedusa, concrete proposals remain absent.

“EU governments and politicians have consistently blocked attempts to ensure EU border policies can focus on saving lives at sea and deciding which countries take responsibility for those saved: they have also failed to ensure that those seeking refuge can access asylum systems safely. Therefore, it is hard to take such rhetoric at face value.”

She added: “New EU rules on the surveillance of sea borders are currently under discussion in the European Parliament and Council but EU governments are again pushing for limited provisions for assistance in the case of emergencies.

“This is not acceptable and must be immediately redressed. EU governments must finally take their responsibility to prevent these avoidable tragedies off Europe’s coast. This implies equipping the relevant agencies with a mandate and means to fulfil this role. The Commission must urgently outline proposals to this end.

“There is also a need to finally make a common asylum system a reality and provide for a more humane treatment of those coming to Europe seeking refuge and asylum, and ensure that EU member states share responsibility for this.

“The EU should also use the possibilities of a humanitarian visa or planned resettlement, which provide a proper system for those willing to take grave risks to come to Europe for refuge. This means finally committing to a common asylum system, not a deterrence system.”