Finding things like this is rather depressing. The article, published in April 2011, talks about European governments’ deals with Gaddafi to keep away people from European shores.
“For more than a decade the booming Libyan economy has been a destination for legal and illegal migrants from Africa and even further afield in Bangladesh and China. The extended Libyan coast has also been a springboard for undocumented migration into Europe.
Following Tony Blair’s famous kiss in 2004, Gaddafi entered into a series of agreements with the European Union and individual governments, in which Libya effectively became a co-partner in enforcing Europe’s ‘externalised’ border controls.
Gaddafi was a shrewd and cynical manipulator of Europe’s immigration obsessions, which provided Libya with a constant flow of money, equipment, technology and also contributed greatly to his own short-lived political rehabilitation.
Last summer he asked the EU for €5bn to prevent Europe from “turning black”. In October he received a promise of €50 million over the next three years as part of a ‘co-operation agenda’ signed by the European Commission.”
I’ve been trying to find out how many people are reaching Europe from Libya now. It’s quite hard since most articles talk about their country of origin (top 5 in descending order of the number of people: Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Nigeria), not the last country they were in before they got to Europe. In any case, this (pretty recent) map is pretty self-explanatory.
It would be hard to argue that those policies led to the crisis now. There’s a number of direct reasons why people are fleeing to Europe (eg. the Syrian civil war which, though likely to be correlated with EU’s attitudes toward Gaddafi, was not caused by them). Nevertheless, they point to the lack of willingness to tackle the issue in a coherent and sustainable way. Why? Well, the electorate in Europe is not very favourable toward immigration; Sweden is the only country where the majority of people have positive attitudes towards immigration. Plus, there’s always a crisis to be dealt with, and this one didn’t make it to the top of the list.
Well, it is on top of the list now. There is no point in pretending like there is an easy solution and the EU “should just do X”. As much as I think that there is a lot more than Europe can do, let’s not pretend there is a quick fix to the situation.
But in order to even find a solution, there needs to be the will to help and to address the situation in a meaningful way.
“It remains to be seen whether the European Union has the will or inclination to intervene on behalf of the migrants that it has tried to keep out for so long” concludes the article. These words could not be more true right now.