More than 276,000 illegal immigrants entered the EU in 2014, an increase of 138% compared to the year before. This information came from the European commissioner for Immigration, Dimitris Avramopoulos. Among them, 207,000 came in “by crossing the Mediterranean illegally”, the commissioner said during a debate in the European Parliament. They were talking about recent events involving cargo ships loaded with hundreds of distressed immigrants off the coast of Italy.
Since September, more than 12 of these cargo ships have arrived in Europe, which shows “human traffickers find new routes, and methods”, the commissioner said. All this while “conflicts near us generate a constant flow of refugees to Europe”, which will “continue unless a decisive and coordinated action by the EU is taken”, he warned.
The EU should step up its fight against trafficking, by reinforcing its methods of collecting and exchanging information on traffickers, and making “its legal options more efficient”, he added. “We are in close contact with Turkish authorities to rapidly adapt our strategy, as Turkey has become one of the alternative routes for the traffickers”.
At the same time, the EU and its member States “must act together to set up a real rehoming program for refugees”. It should also increase the number of Syrian refugees it accomodates, currently limited to 36,000. Up to 3,5 million Syrians have fled their country.
The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, said it was “fundamental that the EU deals with the Libyan case”, where most of the immigrants found on the coast of Italy travelled from.
“If we do nothing, all we can say about immigration is we won’t be able to see the wood for the trees”, he said, during a Parliament press conference.
Andy Sanchez (Source: Belga)