From Malta Today: “The United Kingdom and France, members of the United Nations Security Council, will kick off discussions in an attempt to obtain a UN resolution mandating the destruction of boats used by smugglers.”
From AFP: “Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi added that leaders from France and Britain, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, had ‘committed to get a resolution from the United Nations for an intervention in Libya.’”
Earlier today the Security Council released a short Presidential Statement regarding the “The Impact of the Humanitarian Crisis in Syria on the Neighbouring Countries.” Here are some excerpts from the PRST with bearing on the migrant and refugee flows in the region:
“[***] The Security Council expresses grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, including at the fact that over 220,000 people have been killed, including well over 10,000 children since the beginning of the conflict ; around half of the population has been forced to flee their homes, including over 3.9 million who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, among which are nearly 2.1 million children ; and that more than 12.2 million people in Syria require urgent humanitarian assistance including 440,000 civilians in besieged areas.[***]
The Security Council is alarmed that the Syrian crisis has become the largest humanitarian emergency crisis in the world today, threatening peace and security in the region with diverse implications on the neighbouring countries and the displacement of millions of Syrians into those countries, and calls to address further spill-over of the conflict in Syria into the neighbouring countries. [***]
The Security Council underlines the risk of further regional destabilization if the conflict, refugee crisis and the needs of the host countries are not adequately addressed. The Security Council stresses the importance of funding the humanitarian and development responses to the refugee crisis, providing support for national response plans, addressing the humanitarian needs of refugees, in particular women and children, both in camps and urban areas and through capacity building and technical support, strengthening the resilience of host countries and communities as components of stabilizing the region, preventing radicalization and countering the threat of terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters.
The Security Council notes with concern that the international response to the Syrian and regional crisis continues to fall short of meeting the needs as assessed by host governments and the United Nations, and urges all Member States, based on burden-sharing principles, to support the United Nations and the countries of the region, including by adopting medium and long-term responses to alleviate the impact on communities, providing increased, flexible and multi-year predictable funding as well as increasing resettlement efforts, and taking note in this regard of the Berlin Communiqué of 28 October 2014. [***]”
See also “Security Council Press Statement on Recent Maritime Tragedy in Mediterranean Sea” of 21 April 2015 – Full Text:
“The members of the Security Council deplored the recent maritime tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea that resulted in hundreds of casualties, and extended their deepest condolences to all those affected and to their families.
The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern at the recent proliferation of, and endangerment of lives by, the smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya.
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the implications for regional stability posed by transnational organized crime and illicit activities such as the smuggling of migrants, condemned and deplored the said acts and underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice.
The members of the Security Council called for the full implementation by State Parties of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
The members of the Security Council expressed their strong support to countries in the region affected by the smuggling of migrants and emphasized the need to step up coordination of international efforts in order to strengthen a global response to this common challenge, and in order to protect these vulnerable migrants from being victimized by human traffickers.
The members of the Security Council urged all Member States, including countries of origin and transit, to cooperate with each other and with relevant international and regional organizations, including the IOM [International Organization for Migration], in addressing illicit migration flows, and dismantling smuggling networks in the region.
In that regard, the members of the Security Council urged all States to comply with their applicable obligations under international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and refugee law.”
“1. The situation in the Mediterranean is a tragedy. The European Union will mobilise all efforts at its disposal to prevent further loss of life at sea and to tackle the root causes of the human emergency that we face, in cooperation with the countries of origin and transit. Our immediate priority is to prevent more people from dying at sea.
2. We have therefore decided to strengthen our presence at sea, to fight the traffickers, to prevent illegal migration flows and to reinforce internal solidarity and responsibility. Given that instability in Libya creates an ideal environment for the criminal activities of traffickers, we will actively support all UN-led efforts towards re-establishing government authority in Libya. We will also step up efforts to address conflict and instability as key push factors of migration, including in Syria.
3. We today commit to:
Strengthening our presence at sea
a) rapidly reinforce EU Operations Triton and Poseidon by at least tripling the financial resources for this purpose in 2015 and 2016 and reinforcing the number of assets, thus allowing to increase the search and rescue possibilities within the mandate of FRONTEX. We welcome the commitments already made by Member States which will allow to reach this objective in the coming weeks;
Fighting traffickers in accordance with international law
b) disrupt trafficking networks, bring the perpetrators to justice and seize their assets, through swift action by Member State authorities in co-operation with EUROPOL, FRONTEX, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EUROJUST, as well as through increased intelligence and police-cooperation with third countries;
c) undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers;
d) at the same time, the High Representative is invited to immediately begin preparations for a possible CSDP operation to this effect;
e) use EUROPOL to detect and request removal of internet content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees, in accordance with national constitutions;
Preventing illegal migration flows
f) increase support to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger among others, to monitor and control the land borders and routes, building on current CSDP operations in the region, as well as on regional cooperation frameworks (Rabat and Khartoum processes); step up dialogue with the African Union at all levels on all these issues;
g) reinforce our political cooperation with African partners at all levels in order to tackle the cause of illegal migration and combat the smuggling and trafficking of human beings. The EU will raise these issues with the African Union and the key countries concerned, with whom it will propose the holding of a summit in Malta in the coming months;
h) step up cooperation with Turkey in view of the situation in Syria and Iraq;
i) deploy European migration liaison officers in key countries to gather information on migratory flows, co-ordinate with national liaison officers, and co-operate directly with the local authorities;
j) work with regional partners in building capacity for maritime border management and search and rescue operations;
k) launch Regional Development and Protection programmes for North Africa and the Horn of Africa;
l) invite the Commission and the High Representative to mobilise all tools, including through development cooperation and the implementation of EU and national readmission agreements with third countries, to promote readmission of unauthorised economic migrants to countries of origin and transit, working closely with the International Organisation for Migration;
m) while respecting the right to seek asylum, set up a new return programme for the rapid return of illegal migrants from frontline Member States, coordinated by FRONTEX;
Reinforcing internal solidarity and responsibility
n) rapid and full transposition and effective implementation of the Common European Asylum System by all participating Member States, thereby ensuring common European standards under existing legislation;
o) increase emergency aid to frontline Member States and consider options for organising emergency relocation between all Member States on a voluntary basis;
p) deploy EASO teams in frontline Member States for joint processing of asylum applications, including registration and finger-printing;
q) set up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement across the EU, offering places to persons qualifying for protection.
4. The EU institutions and the Member States will work immediately on the full implementation of these orientations. The Presidency and the Commission will present next week a roadmap setting out work up to June.
5. The European Council looks forward to the Commission Communication on a European Agenda for Migration, in order to develop a more systemic and geographically comprehensive approach to migration. The European Council will remain seized of the situation and will closely monitor the implementation of these orientations. The Council and the Commission will report to the European Council in June.”
Libya Group With Control Over Tripoli and Libya’s Western Coast Says It Will “Confront” Unilateral EU Attacks on People Smuggler Sites
Libya Dawn, “[t]he group controlling Libya’s coastal capital Tripoli [and the Mediterranean coastal areas to the east and west of Tripoli] says it will ‘confront’ any unilateral European Union moves to attack sites used by people smugglers, urging the [EU] to consult it over plans to deal with the migration crisis.” (Click here for Guardian article-reporting based on Times of Malta interview with the group’s foreign minister.)
The political and security situation in Libya is complicated. And while migrant boats tend to depart from areas around Tripoli because the area is closer to Lampedusa and Malta, boats leave from eastern areas of Libya as well. If the EU does end up taking military action in Libya, it will necessarily engage with different militias and political groups.
Post Meeting Remarks from Council President Tusk: EU to destroy smugglers’ boats in line with int’l law; triple resources for Frontex Operation Triton; seek better co-operation with countries of origin and transit; coordinate resettlement of more refugees
Remarks by President Donald Tusk following the special European Council meeting on migratory pressures in the Mediterranean – 23/04/2015, 22:00
“Good evening. Today, we discussed the dramatic situation in the Mediterranean at the highest political level. Saving the lives of innocent people is the number one priority. But saving lives is not just about rescuing people at sea. It is also about stopping the smugglers and addressing irregular migration.
Let me be clear. Europe did not cause this tragedy. But that does not mean we can be indifferent. We are facing a difficult summer and we need to be ready to act.
Therefore, leaders have agreed four priority areas for action.
First, leaders have asked the High Representative to propose actions in order to capture and destroy the smugglers’ vessels before they can be used. Naturally, this will be in line with international law and respect for human rights. We will step up co-operation against smuggling networks by working through Europol, and by deploying immigration officers to third countries.
Second, we have agreed to triple the resources available to Triton, our border mission in the Central Mediterranean, and to enhance its operational capability. The mission will continue to carry out its mandate and respond to distress calls where necessary. I am happy to announce that leaders have already pledged significantly greater support, including many more vessels, aircraft and experts, and money.
Third, we need to limit irregular migration flows and to discourage people from putting their lives at risk. This means better co-operation with the countries of origin and transit, especially the countries around Libya.
Finally, we will do more on refugee protection. The European Union will help front-line Member States under pressure and co-ordinate the resettlement of more people to Europe on a voluntary basis, and with an option for emergency relocation. For those who do not qualify as refugees, we will operate an effective returns policy.
Leaders had no illusions that we would solve this international human emergency today. Therefore, we have tasked the Commission, the Council and the High Representative to step up their work based on what we have now agreed. This issue remains our priority and the European Council will come back to it in June.
As a final remark, let me repeat that the European Union is completely opposed to the death penalty. It cannot be the answer to drug trafficking. I am referring here to Mr Atlaoui, the French citizen who has been condemned by the Indonesian authorities. Thank you.”
“Frontex is looking forward to implement the conclusions of the European Council to be held this afternoon in Brussels and has already started preparing the implementation of the Home Affairs/Foreign Affairs Council held in Luxemburg on Monday, 20 April, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said.
‘My proposal is to increase as an immediate step air surveillance in the Mediterranean Sea south of Italy and Malta in addition to the vessels currently deployed, which is aimed at enhancing search and rescue capacities in the area,’ Leggeri said.
Leggeri has suggested increasing the aerial assets taking part in the Frontex-coordinated Triton operation also following two incidents when people smugglers have used weapons to reclaim boats following search and rescue operations in which vessels taking part in Triton were involved.
‘Assets co-funded by the agency have helped save thousands of lives in the Mediterranean. Frontex will continue within its mandate to do everything it can to fulfil this responsibility,’ Leggeri said.”
US Accidentally Kills Italian and American Hostages in Carefully Targeted Surgical Drone Strike; EU Poised to Approve “Surgical” Military Strikes in Libya to Save Migrants
President Obama admitted today that the US had accidentally killed two Al Qaeda hostages, an Italian and an American, in a drone strike earlier this year. Obama said that before the military strike was authorised the US had conducted “hundreds of hours of surveillance on an al-Qaeda compound that led officials to believe there were no civilians present.”Giovanni Lo Porto and Warren Weinstein were killed in January. The information was only made public today.
The European Council’s pending approval of “surgical” and carefully planned strikes in Libya on boats that could be used by people smugglers, if approved and carried out, will in all likelihood result in the killing of innocent persons as today’s admission by Obama demonstrates.