By DIANA ZHANG
On Monday, May 11, the EU (European Union) asked the United Nations (UN) Security Council to authorize military forces to aid in preventing migrant smugglers from crossing the Mediterranean to escape from Africa into Europe. The EU proposal would allow the military force to seize and destroy the human traffickers’ ships before their human cargo is taken aboard.
In recent years, many migrants from North Africa wanting to escape violence left their home countries with human traffickers and found sanctuaries in Italy and other European countries. According to the UN, more than 60,000 people this year have already tried to escape from Africa into Europe. In 2014, over 3,400 migrants died at sea attempting this dangerous journey. Approximately 2,000 have already met the same fate this year.
The European Commission is also planning a proposal calling for a quota for the number of asylum seekers that each EU nation would be required to take in. The Commission also called for each nation to establish legal means for the refugees to migrate to Europe, eliminating the need to resort to dangerous human traffickers.
Germany and many countries along the southern border of Europe have strongly backed the plan. On the other hand, the United Kingdom, France and Spain strongly oppose of the arrangement. Britain’s conservative government disapproves of mandating immigrant asylum. Similarly, France’s prime minister said, according to The Guardian, that he supports fairer distribution of refugees but strongly opposes quotas.
According to CNN, the proposal also contains many other details, such as additional funding for operations led by Frontex, the EU’s border agency, in the Mediterranean to help rescue migrants in trouble and deter human traffickers. An extra 50 million euros ($56 million) would be provided for a resettlement scheme for displaced people in clear need of international protection in Europe. A joint security operation would be started in the Mediterranean to dismantle traffickers’ networks. EU countries would work with migrants’ countries of origin to try to stem the flow of migrants before they are put on boats. Also, they would work with the International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency to set up a pilot center in Niger, a major transit route for migrants that would try to limit the number of people migrating from West Africa. The UN would soon introduce a policy on legal migration to reduce the incentive for people to seek and enter illegally.