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Italy and Germany want an EU Mission on the Libya-Niger border to curb migrants

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Chadian returnees coming from Libya. The journey migrants take is similar to this, a risk venture across the Sahara Desert

Chadian returnees coming from Libya. The journey migrants take is similar to this, a risk venture across the Sahara Desert

Germany and Italy have written to the European Commission to suggest the establishment of a mission on the Libya-Niger border in addition to the deployment of other resources to mitigate the movement of migrants.

“The first months of this year have shown that our efforts up to this point have been insufficient. We must prevent hundreds of thousands of people who are in the hands of smugglers from risking their lives in Libya and the Mediterranean,” read the letter, written by the Interior ministers of Italy and Germany.

“The goal is as quickly as possible to build up an EU mission on the border between Libya and Niger.”

This mission will be complemented by growth and development programs for the border communities, in addition to technical and financial support for Libyan authorities in order. So far this year, more than 53,000 people have made it across the Mediterranean, with 45,000 (85%) of them taking the Central Route, which ends in Italy.

Fewer Migrants Through Niger

While the number of migrants using Libya as the penultimate stop before heading to Europe (Italy) has actually increased from 31,000 by May 2016 to this year’s 45,000, that increase can’t wholly be attributed to an increased migration from Niger into Libya.

One primary contributor to the spike is Bangladeshi migrants, who were only 3 last year but have so far reached 4,645 this year. Moroccans too have more than doubled on the Central Route.

Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration reported in April that the number of migrants passing through Niger had actually dropped; the Nigerien town of Seguedine, a major migrant hub, witnessed only 8,700 migrants between January and February this year, and yet the town had in the 10 months prior seen 292,000 migrants pass through.

This could be due to the aid package of €132 million offered to the nation by Italy and Germany last year, and predicated on combating illegal migration; a further €610 million was offered by the EU.

Niger isn’t the only country to benefit from Europe’s largesse, tied to stopping migrants while still far from Europe: Sudan has so far allegedly received €215 million to stop refugees, and has violated the refoulement principle by deporting Eritrean refugees to their home nation, where life imprisonment awaits those who escaped in the first place to avoid the nation’s universal conscription.