While major political changes, heralding the end of the authoritarian regimes, are processing in the south of the Mediterranean area, governments and instances in the European union are especially concerned about how to protect themselves from “uncontrollable migration flows” potentially brought about by these upheavals. Experts and diplomatic services, which were unable to see the current political movements looming ahead, aren’t afraid to assert that thousands of migrants are likely to literally flood into European territories.
In 2001, the EU adopted a “temporary protection” mechanism for country nationals who are victims of a natural catastrophe, of political turmoil in their country, or of an armed conflict, and who are in urgent need of a shelter in Europe. Yet, the European Commission hastened to tell that “there was, for now, no refugee flows arriving from Libya”. Meanwhile, the Commission sent patrols on its sea borders, via Frontex, to prevent potential refugees, considered as irregular migrants, from crossing the Mediterranean Sea !
At the same time, the situation is worsening every day more in Libya and at its borders. In Tunisia, where dozens of thousands of refugees are arriving, the system is overloaded, despite all the efforts of the local authorities. Europe cannot pretend the plight of dozens or hundreds of thousands of people in need of protection in unstable countries, or of that of resident migrants from various Arab, Africa, Asian countries residing there, was none of its business.
Not so long ago, Europe was proud of deploying “a Euro-Mediterranean policy”. Would this ambition have blow up into pieces, at the very moment when many potential partner nations of this “Euro-Mediterranean area” are in the process of turning to democracies ?
We call solemnly to all European governments, to EU instances, to all political parties to take emergency measures, in cooperation with partners in the Mediterranean area, so that :
Planes are available to allow for a quick repatriation of not only European nationals, but also of all who can and want to come back to their country, such as Egyptians who are currently in Tunisia ;
The evacuation by air or by sea, from places of the Libyan territory which are not under the control of Gaddafi, is made possible for foreigners stuck in Libya and whose governments are unable to evacuate ;
Reception schemes, on European territory, of refugees who can’t return to their country, are set up ;
A temporary protection scheme is implemented as soon as possible to grant protection to those who, in the current emergency situation, are legitimate to ask for it ;
Frontex patrols stop stopping the refugees on the sea ;
The systematic ghost of “invasion” which feeds European populations’ fears should stop. The consideration that stopping emigration from unstable countries is an utmost priority should stop.
We refuse this criminal selfishness. We want a welcoming Europe of solidarity.