Germany’s Interior Ministry wants to stop migrants from ever reaching Europe’s Mediterranean coast as hundreds of migrants keep making the perilous crossing daily.
The ministry is proposing that the European Union adopts an Australian-style system whereby it intercepts the migrants at sea and sends them to processing camps outside Europe.
The proposed plan, the Reuters news agency reports includes intercepting the migrants at sea and sending them to Tunisia, Egypt or other north African countries to apply for asylum from there and if their applications are accepted, the migrants would then be transported safely to Europe.
German newspaper Welt am Sonntag quotes a ministry spokesperson as saying: “The elimination of the prospect of reaching the European coast could convince migrants to avoid embarking on the life-threatening and costly journey in the first place.”
“The goal must be to remove the basis for people smuggling organizations and to save migrants from the life-threatening journey.”
The proposal, a major shift from Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy which caused her party to lose votes in the recent regional elections, has been criticized by opposition politicians.
Head of the opposition Left party, Bernd Rixinger is quoted by Welt am Sonntag as saying it would be “a humanitarian scandal and a further step toward elimination of the right to asylum”.
Rixinger who also described Australia’s treatment of migrants as “absolutely unacceptable”, said asylum applications should be filled in Germany to ensure applicants had access to legal help.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said last week that 159,496 migrants had reached Italy by sea this year alone with some 4,220 of them dying in their attempt to make the perilous journey.