The increased number of immigrants from Libya and African countries via Italy; and the increased challenges this is posing on Italy and Greece.
Question No. 266
Parliamentary Question - Oireachtas
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the increased number of immigrants from Libya and African countries via Italy; and the increased challenges this is posing on Italy and Greece..
- Darragh O'Brien.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11th July, 2017.
Ref No: 32466/17
PQ Type changed from ---> Oral; (White No - 20; on 13/09/2017)
The migration crisis has been one of the greatest challenges facing the EU for the last two years. It has been a particular problem for Italy and Greece as the EU countries where the majority of migrants arrive. The EU has responded to the crisis by adopting a range of measures to deal with this mass movement of people. These have included engaging with countries of origin and transit to address the root causes of migration including through the Migration Partnership Framework; agreeing a plan to relocate migrants from Italy and Greece across the Union; the launching of Operation Sophia to disrupt people smuggling in the Mediterranean; and substantial financial assistance to countries hosting large numbers of migrants. EU Heads of State and Government concluded a landmark migration deal with Turkey in March 2016, which has resulted in a very substantial reduction in the number of migrants risking their lives at sea to enter the EU from Turkey.
In the past year the focus has shifted from Greece and Turkey to the so-called Central Mediterranean Route, with some 181,000 migrants crossing from Libya to Italy in 2016. So far this year, over 85,000 people have made the journey, a 20% increase over the same period in 2016, according to figures from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). At least 2,150 others have died trying. Most migrants are coming from sub-Saharan Africa. According to UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the top two nationalities arriving in Italy by sea in 2016 were Nigerians (21%) and Eritreans (11%).
The June European Council discussed the migration crisis and agreed to provide more support for Italy, to improve its coordination efforts and try to end the tragic situation where so many people are losing their lives.
In recent weeks, the Italian government has expressed its strong concern at the increase in the numbers of migrants arriving in Italy which is placing increasing strain on reception facilities. The Interior ministers of France, Germany and Italy along with the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, met in Paris on 2 July and agreed, inter alia, to enhance support to the Libyan coastguard by increasing training activities and providing additional financial support while at the same time ensuring close monitoring of activities and to provide additional support to the IOM and the UNHCR to enable facilities in Libya to reach international standards in terms of living conditions and human rights. They also agreed to accelerate the EU Relocation scheme agreed in 2015.
Ireland is playing its part to help resolve the EU migration crisis. As part of that response we have to date taken in 785 asylum seekers and refugees from Lebanon under a UN-led Resettlement Programme and 459 migrants from Greece under the EU Relocation mechanism agreed in 2015. Efforts are ongoing with the Italian authorities to resolve the issue of the security screening of migrants which has prevented any relocations from Italy to Ireland to date. Our naval service working with the Italian navy on a humanitarian search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean has rescued over 16,200 people.