According to an article written today in the German newspaper Welt am Sontag, the German interior ministry wants to prevent migrants from reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast by picking them up at sea and rerouting them to Africa.
In a 180-degree turnaround for a country that has been known till now for its generous asylum policies, the German interior ministry wants the European Union to adopt an Australian-style system, intercepting migrants at sea and sending them to camps in third countries while their requests for asylum are being processed.
By eliminating the prospect of reaching the European coast, the ministry believes it would help deter migrants from undertaking such dangerous and costly journeys in the first place, Welt reported a government spokeswoman as saying. “The goal must be to remove the basis for people-smuggling organizations and to save migrants from the life-threatening journey.”
The German interior ministry’s proposal calls for migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean – most originating from Libya – to be rerouted to Tunisia, Egypt or other north African states where they could apply for and await asylum to Europe, and be ensured safe passage if accepted.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under harsh criticism from her political opponents over her open-door policy with respect to the refugees, and the Christian Democratic Party has lost many votes to the anti-immigration party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the regional elections that took place recently.
Italy’s coast guard reported rescuing over 2,200 refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean yesterday alone and retrieving 10 corpses from the sea, while according to information released by the International Organization for Migration, 159,496 people have reached Italy by sea this year, and 4,220 have died trying, a dramatic increase from 3,777 in the whole of 2015.
According to the ministry, there are no immediate plans to implement the proposed migration policy, nor have there been discussions between the European Union members concerning the issue.