The GUE/NGL group was critical of the package of measures proposed by the European Commission to stem the flow of migration to Europe's shores by military and other repressive means.
GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “I criticise the behaviour of member states. They have set a framework of fear of refugees and security challenges for this debate. When they talk about military action, they are being unrealistic as none of the reasons which make people flee from their home countries is tackled.”
She continued: “Military action in order to sink refugee vessels would entail collateral damage – the death of people, refugees, ships' captains and others. The package proposed does not take up the challenge that refugees are people who are suffering from war, poverty and hunger. The package tackles the issue from a security point of view and not a humanitarian one. Who can really think that we can achieve security by closing off our borders, closing off Europe?”
She was critical of the fact that the package involves the further repression of refugees. “Repressing them does not help to solve any one of their problems. As our policies contribute to the destruction of people´s livelihoods, we should not be surprised that people are fleeing or being pushed into the arms of fundamentalists and terrorists. Nor will the problem of people-smuggling be solved by military means. It only increases the dangers of coming to the EU but does not prevent people from trying to come.”
MEP Zimmer concluded: “All we are doing is pushing these people back across the Mediterranean, behind the Libyan border, where refugees are arrested, mistreated and deprived of human dignity. We push them out of sight and out of mind. Has anyone mentioned the 190 people found dead on the Libyan coast recently? What we should really be doing is finding a new approach and tackling the problem in a humanitarian way, providing safe and legal access to have asylum requests evaluated.”