Emmanuel Macron’s plans to remove refugees and migrants from Libyan camps and have them processed for repatriation in sub-Saharan countries has been condemned by GUE/NGL as the wrong approach in dealing with the crisis in Libya.

The French President unveiled the scheme at the side lines of the EU-African Union summit in Côte d'Ivoire. He said such EU-financed ‘emergency operations’ would begin shortly, with the UN supporting African countries in carrying out the removal.

The plans would include setting up processing centres in Niger and Chad where officials will identify the migrants’ country of origin, issue travel documents and then repatriate them.

In a joint end-of-session communiqué, the heads of the European Commission, the African Union and the United Nations agreed to put in place a joint task force to ‘save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya, accelerating the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin, and the resettlement of those in need of international protection’.

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer is deeply troubled by the proposals:

“EU leaders have once again shown their true intention and that is to keep all those who are suffering from conflicts, hunger and poverty away from the EU. More than 700,000 migrants continue to live in the most miserable and dangerous conditions imaginable in Libya. And they are now going to remove 3800 people from inhumane camps in Libya and take them NOT to the EU but to Niger and Chad. From there, they will be deported back to the countries which they have fled from.”

Zimmer also condemns the conditions under which the EU sought to justify the latest intervention in Libya:

“In order to obtain a long-sought UN mandate to intervene in Libya, the EU chose to exploit the shocking CNN video on slave markets in Libya. However, instead of bringing an immediate halt to the shabby deal with Libya, the EU wants to give Libya even more money – money that goes to local militias to stop people from fleeing to the EU. But the EU is helping to finance the same militias which had originally put the migrants in these camps – where they endure systematic abuse and are sold as slaves.”

“We must immediately provide safe and legal passage to the EU for all those who are urgently in need. If the EU were to cooperate with African countries seriously, it should increase its aid payments massively and must pursue a fair and sustainable trade policy that doesn’t focus solely on profits and business opportunities for European companies,” she continued.

“However, the EU does not consider using its money for the sustainable development of regional and local economic structures – only for defence against migration. With this in mind, how are we supposed to ever stop people from fleeing and taking flight from their homelands?” surmised the German MEP.

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