Published: November 04, 2019
The UK government’s “flawed,” short-term approach to migration risks worsening the migrant crisis, the country’s foreign affairs committee has warned in a damning report.
EU deals with migrant countries such as Libya, Niger and Sudan risk fuelling human rights abuse and can be used as leverage, such as with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent threat to “reopen the gates”, the cross-party group of backbench MPs found.
It said it was “deeply concerned” at the lack of search and rescue ships in the Mediterranean and said the UK government had done little to convince the committee it was engaged with the problem.
One witness the committee spoke to accused Europe of “letting people die as a deterrent” to migration amid a shortfall in rescue ships.
“We recommend that the UK Government works with European partners to take the necessary steps to ensure additional search-and-rescue capability," the committee said.
"And in its response to the committee, it should set out how it will assess and determine this capacity, including targeting a reduction in attempts and a lowering of the fatality rate.”
In 2019, one person died for every six who made it to Europe after leaving Libya, the main origin for migrants, compared to one in 38 in 2017.
“A policy focused exclusively on closing borders serves to drive migrants to take more dangerous routes and pushes them into the hands of criminal groups,” the report said.
It called for greater protection for migrants in detention centres and quoted “compelling” evidence that they were tortured and subjected to sexual abuse.
“The EU’s migration deals with Libya have achieved the short-term political 'win' of cutting migrant numbers, but at the cost of fuelling human rights abuses, strengthening armed groups, and undermining stability in the longer term,” the report said.
The committee’s chair, Tom Tugendhat, warned that unexpected surges in irregular migration are possible and cited the US withdrawal from areas held by Syrian Kurdish fighters and a Turkish military operation in the territory as a possible spark for an increased movement of people into Europe.
Mr Tugendhat said the recent discovery of 39 dead people in a refrigerated lorry in England should serve as a “wake-up call” to the government that the UK is not immune from migrant crises.
The committee also heard evidence that climate change, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa, could drive migration in future decades. source