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Human rights organizations slam EU migrant pact

June 29, 2016

The groups Pro Asyl and Doctors Without Borders have sharply criticized the EU's new plan. Brussels wants to work more closely with African countries in order to stem the flow of refugees to Europe.

Refugees in Libya
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Pro Asyl said on Wednesday that Brussels' migrant policy was "morally unacceptable," a day after a summit in which EU ministers agreed to tighten restrictions on the number of refugees entering Europe through Africa.

As part of the plan, countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan and Libya will take back so-called "economic migrants" that landed in Europe and tighten their borders in an effort to stem further migration.

"In the central Mediterranean region, the influx of migrants, who are primarily economic migrants, has not decreased," said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini late on Tuesday.

Pro Asyl, a German pro-immigration advocacy organization, spoke of an "erosion of human rights" in response to the announcement.

Plan draws criticism

Libyen Flüchtlinge nach Rettung durch Küstenwache
Refugees from Libya after being rescued in the MediterraneanImage: picture-alliance/dpa

"As Europeans, we can't close our eyes to the fact that there is migration around the world and that people need our protection," said Günter Burkhardt, the head of the organization, in an interview with a German broadcaster. He went on to say that EU states had adopted a mentality of "out of sight, out of mind" when it came to migrants by making other countries do "the dirty work" for them.

Doctors Without Borders, the French human rights organization, also lambasted the new proposal. "With the approval of the European Commission's proposed plan to curb migration, the European Council has regrettably used the EU-Turkey deal as a model for dealing with people fleeing to Europe," the organization said in a statement.

The EU reached a deal with Ankara in March in which the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would take back migrants from Europe in exchange for visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and 6 billion euros ($7 billion) in aid. The deal was heavily criticized by those who felt Europe's leaders were caving to Erdogan in an effort to free themselves of the refugee burden.

blc/kl (AFP, epd)