Europe has converted Mediterranean into a cemetery (Alessandra Sciurba)
19/02/2020 14:30, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP)- "Europe has decided to convert the Mediterranean into a cemetery instead of a place where civilisations meet and encourage the free movement of people," lamented Mediterranean Saving Humans President Alessandra Sciurba.

Speaking at a press conference held Wednesday at the headquarters of the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) in Tunis, Sciurba denounced the European migration policy and in particular that of Italy, which she said cooperates with the Libyan "coastguard" to prevent the free movement of people in the Mediterranean and criminalises civil society that campaigns to save human lives in danger.

She pointed out that migrants who do not drown are captured by the Libyan coast guard trained by the European Union and funded by the Italian Government, and are held in detention camps in inhumane conditions.

"Pregnant women, babies, children and youths die in the Mediterranean or are captured by Libyan "militias" and tortured simply because they have fled their country in search of a better future through illegal channels in the absence of legal migration channels," she indicated, describing the European migration policy as racist.

Taking the floor, Lawyers without Borders Mediterranean Director Antonio Manganella stressed the importance of breaking the silence and denouncing the death of hundreds of thousands of people in the Mediterranean just because they are "black Africans."

Manganella pointed out that since 2015 there have been 20 thousand deaths in the Mediterranean with a noteworthy rise in the recent months.

"Instead of strengthening the legal framework and legal channels for migration, Europe is strengthening restrictions and security policy," he added, considering that it is unacceptable to continue trade and economic exchanges and to prohibit the free movement of people.

Manganella underlined the urgency of implementing the resolutions of the Berlin Conference of January 19, 2020 on peace in Libya, particularly the one on the closure of migrant detention centres, calling for the opening of human and legal channels.

For his part, FTDES communication officer Romdhane Ben Amor indicated that the Tunisian irregular migrants are forcibly repatriated every week (two flights on Monday and Thursday) as part of the implementation of unjust conventions between Tunisia and Italy.

According to Ben Amor, Spain is violating the human rights of hundreds of Tunisian migrants detained for months in the Ceti mililla detention centre under inhuman and deplorable conditions in order to conclude a similar agreement with Tunisia.

Furthermore, he said that the same violations are also being suffered by irregular migrants hosted in Tunisia, specifying that currently refugee status does not grant any privileges to irregular migrants in Tunisia, leading many of them to return to their countries.

In this regard, he added that in view of the lack of information about the possible opening of a camp in the region of Bir el Fatnassiya located 15km south of Remada in Tataouine to receive asylum seekers who have fled the crisis in Libya, the FTDES calls on the government and international organisations to provide the necessary means to meet the human needs of migrants and asylum seekers entering Tunisia on the basis of non-discrimination.

Besides, Ben Amor said that the FTDES rejects the use of forced repatriation and considers that security measures must respect the rights of the most vulnerable categories of people such as women and children.

The press conference offered the opportunity to hear the testimony of a mother in distress whose son chose to migrate irregularly and is currently missing.

The mother denounced the government's silence on the subject and the lack of efforts to find the traces of several young irregular migrants who have gone missing at sea.

She called for legal channels to be opened and visas granted to youths so that they can travel freely and not let their families fall into sadness and despair, indicating that despite the unfortunate and unknown fate of her first son, her second son is now attempting to follow the perilous path of his brother.

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