European countries are “generous” when it comes to managing migration. At the end of September, Slovenia, a Balkan country, decided to offer 40 kilometers of fence to Lithuania, the Baltic country. Vilnius is in fact erecting a barrier 508 kilometers long on its border with Belarus. It must be said that, on the eastern side, the situation is tense.
The European Union (EU) has imposed sanctions on the entourage of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. In retaliation, in recent months, Minsk has allowed migrants to cross to Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. This gives rise to unbearable images. We see migrants lying between the rows of soldiers or border guards, between Poland and Belarus.
On October 14, the Polish Parliament adopted an amendment authorizing refoulement at the border, in defiance of the right of exiles to apply for asylum. Slovenia is not the only one to be “generous”. Germany, still led by Angela Merkel – once a champion in welcoming refugees – offered joint patrols in Warsaw on October 20.
More generally, it is Europe that is barricaded. Estonia is in the process of closing around twenty kilometers from its border with Russia. Latvia is doing the same. Lithuania and Poland materialize their borders with Belarus. It is in Ceuta and Melilla, African enclaves of Spain, that the first fences were installed from 2001. Since then, others have emerged on the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders. Walls seem to be erected everywhere.
Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary …
And it’s not over ! Twelve countries asked the Commission in mid-October for the European Union to finance barriers at their borders. The interior ministers of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic argue that “ physical barrier appears to be an effective border protection measure, which serves the interests of all EU countries, not just frontline Member States ”. They believe that “this legitimate measure should be the subject of adequate additional funding in the European budget”. Some of the countries asking Brussels to check out are the same which, this summer, a few days before the capture of Kabul by the Taliban, demanded that the Commission put pressure on the Afghan government to speed up the expulsions of Afghans without a residence permit in Europe …
Natural barriers already exist and do not prevent migrants from reaching Europe. “These constructions only serve to make their roads more dangerous.
In fact, natural barriers already exist. They do not prevent migrants from reaching Europe. “It only serves to make the routes of migrants more dangerous”, deplores Marie-Christine Vergiat, vice-president of the League of Human Rights. The Mediterranean and the Atlantic have indeed been transformed into marine cemeteries. At the end of June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) counted at least 1,146 people dead in these two areas.
Race to the far right
For years, on the contrary, NGOs have been calling for the right of exiles to seek asylum at the heart of the EU’s migration policy. This goes through safe access routes to European countries. This is refused, for the time being, by the member states, which consider that asylum applications from Afghans, for example, can be lodged with their consulate in Pakistan or in another country in the region. “However, we would need legal access routes. This would go through humanitarian corridors, the granting of visas that allow people to leave, ”explains Marie-Christine Vergiat.
Above all, this decision by European leaders to barricade the continent by erecting walls, like what Donald Trump did on the border between Mexico and the United States, responds to a change in public opinion. “These walls are erected to compete with the extreme right,” said Marie-Christine Vergiat. This attitude is shared by all governments, including the left. They seek to “respond to what they think is public opinion,” she explains. Because, in reality, the surveys show a whole different face. “In France, for example, the report of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights shows that racism is decreasing, that tolerance is increasing. As for the “French Fractures” survey, it shows that the migration issue is a priority for the right and the extreme right, but much less for the average French. There is a left-right divide on the subject, ”reminds the vice-president of the LDH. To the left to hold on.