6. November 2019 Statement of the SEEBRÜCKE on the Malta Agreement and the current EU migration policy

The agreement on a temporary reception and distribution mechanism concluded in Malta in September 2019 is nothing more than an emergency aid that can be suspended at any time and is inadequate! It exclusively covers the reception and distribution of people rescued from distress at sea by civilian NGOs within the central Mediterranean route. Other routes, as well as those rescued from merchant ships, are excluded. Thus the so-called Malta Agreement applies only to a very small fraction of the people on the run.

While the agreement could allow a rapid landing of NGO vessels and thereby prevent long stand-offs, the EU’s deadly isolationist policy will continue. This was demonstrated again recently by Ocean Viking, which had to wait 12 days at the end of October for the assignment of a safe harbour. Horst Seehofer packs the agreement into a humanitarian discourse and sells it to EU civil society. But we do not let ourselves be deceived: There is an agreement between Europe’s governments that migration defence is the highest goal and that the cruel reality in the Libyan torture camps is the lower price.

The majority of civilian NGO ships are still seized or blocked, and many of the rescuers are being criminalized. The Alarm Phone initiative receives emergency calls almost daily and forwards them to the responsible authorities. However, the authorities regularly ignore the information on sea emergencies. This sealing off policy has already cost more than 22,000 documented [1] human lives since 2014 on the escape route over the Mediterranean alone. All these factual circumstances were not part of the negotiations in Malta and Luxembourg.

The EU’s migration policy is “Keep them away, at all costs!” We say: not with us! We demand the abolition of camp regimes inside and outside the EU, as well as safe escape routes!

Dying in the Mediterranean will not stop until safe escape routes are created. Only safe escape routes can stop the criminal business in Libya. Instead, the EU supports and finances criminal militias operating the so-called “Libyan Coast Guard” and torture camps [2]. The Federal Republic makes itself a direct accomplice by training and co-financing Libyan militias. It was precisely this “coast guard” who recently threatened a rescue mission of Alan Kurdi through the use of weapons [3].

Libya is not the only country to defend against migration on behalf of the EU: whether the overcrowded camps on the Greek islands or on the Balkan route, the postponement of the isolation to North Africa or Turkey – these neo-colonial practices, which violate human rights, endanger countless human lifes. We are firmly opposed to the increasing outsourcing of European borders. Instead, we advocate the free and safe movement of refugees to their destination countries.

European cities and municipalities must have a voice in migration policy. The willingness of 115 safe harbours in Germany to accept refugees must not be ignored by the state, but must be supported and promoted with all available means. This also applies to other progressive and local reception programmes. Only in this way can all new arrivals – regardless of their escape route – be offered a long-term perspective of arriving and staying.

In order to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in the central Mediterranean and on Europe’s external borders, we call for the following:

  1. The decriminalisation and support of civil sea rescue, as well as the creation of a state-run European sea rescue mission.
  2. An immediate creation of safe escape routes – irrespective of origin, passport and training.
  3. To put an immediate end to the current (non-European) so-called “migration management”.

    This means:
    -The immediate and irrevocable closure of the Libyan camps, as well as the immediate termination of cooperation and financing the so called libyan coast guard and all goverments cooperating with militias.

    – The closure of all detention camps on the EU’s external borders, such as Greece, Turkey and the Balkan route. The people detained in these camps must be immediately brought to the welcoming cities and municipalities of Europe through uncomplicated mechanisms.

    Ending the de facto relocation of the EU’s external borders through cooperation and deals with countries such as Morocco, Rwanda, Tunisia, Niger and Mali. As a result, people seeking protection are forced to use life-threatening escape routes.

    – The end of the racist EU-Turkey deal to defend refugees and all cooperation with the Turkish state.

    – The immediate, unbureaucratic and direct evacuation of people to Europe.
  4. The long overdue suspension of the Dublin Agreement in order to guarantee a pan-European solution based on solidarity and human rights for people on the run.
  5. The active support of the Federal Government for the extraordinary willingness of 115 safe ports [4] to accept refugees, as well as for the alliance “Cities Safe Harbours” [5]

[1] https://missingmigrants.iom.int/region/mediterranean
[2] https://www.proasyl.de/news/der-menschenverachtende-deal-der-eu-mit-libyen/
[3] https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/alan-kurdi-141.html
[4] https://seebruecke.org/startseite/sichere-haefen-in-deutschland/
[5] http://kommunalwiki.boell.de/index.php/Städtebündnis_Sicherer_Häfen, sowie: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seebrücke_(Bündnis)