The situation of refugees and migrants crossing the central Mediterranean and Aegean Seas continues to be a source of the utmost concern. Whilst the numbers arriving on the Greek islands may have fallen, those taking the far more dangerous central Mediterranean route have remained at or even above the extremely high levels of 2015. Over 3 600 have lost their lives this year.
Further human rights concerns are raised by Europe’s responses to this situation, including detention conditions in hotspots, reception conditions and access to asylum procedures in Italy and Greece, and the circumstances in which those returned to Turkey under the EU-Turkey Agreement find themselves.
These negative human rights consequences have been exacerbated by European States’ failure to implement agreed policies on family reunification under the Dublin Regulation, relocation under the European Council decisions and resettlement under various European Union agreements. Such lack of solidarity and refusal to share responsibility means that pressure has continued to mount on struggling front-line States.
As far as implemented action is concerned, the European Union is engaged in naval operation “Sophia” in the central Mediterranean, intended to disrupt migrant smuggling. Its proposal to train Libyan coastguards to intercept refugees and migrants in Libyan waters and return them to the national territory, despite the horrific human rights abuses that many suffer there, is a real cause for concern.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine recent European policy innovations in response to the continuing mass arrivals across the Mediterranean, building on its work in previous reports on various aspects of this constantly evolving situation, with a view to making recommendations to member States and the European Union.