Returning migrants to Libya as soon as they are picked up from their boats may well be open to question, but it is certainly preferable to allowing migrants to risk their lives in the first place by making the crossing in unseaworthy boats, MEP Simon Busuttil has argued.
He was replying to questions after addressed a group of students and practitioners following a summer course on immigration at the Institute of European Studies and the Law Faculty of the Université Libree de Bruxelles (ULB).
The course is being taken up by university students from different countries and also by practitioners and representatives of bodies such as the UN and UNHCR.
During his lecture, which was held at the European Parliament, Dr Busuttil explained how, following years of work to bring the problem at the top of the EU agenda, the EU had finally started to offer concrete solutions. These included the proposal to suspend the Dublin Regulation for overburdened countries and the burden-sharing pilot project for the internal resettlement of beneficiaries of international protection within the EU.
During the debate, a UN employee present for the lecture remarked that the current return policies being pursued by Italy with regard to Libya hindered legitimate asylum seekers from applying for asylum. Replying, Dr Busuttil stated that returning migrants to Libya might well be open to question but it was certainly preferable to allowing migrants to risk their lives in the first place by making the crossing in unseaworthy boats.
He said that the solution lay in more effort on all sides, not least by affording prospective asylum seekers the possibility to apply for protection directly at the UNHCR’s office in Tripoli.
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