The Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie arrives at the wharf on her return from the European Union 'Operation Sophia' mission in the Mediterranean Sea in Zeebrugge, Belgium | Photo: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
The Belgian Navy frigate Louise-Marie arrives at the wharf on her return from the European Union 'Operation Sophia' mission in the Mediterranean Sea in Zeebrugge, Belgium | Photo: EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn has said that the EU should consider bringing back ships for Operation Sophia, both for rescue purposes and to fight against trafficking.

The Luxembourg government urged the EU to reconsider bringing back migrant rescues at sea and anti-trafficking operations. Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn was speaking at a meeting on migrants organized in Paris by Interior Minister Christophe Castaner and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, according to a statement issued by the Luxembourg government. 


'We cannot hide behind the pull factor' 

Asselborn went on to say that the EU should not hide behind the 'pull factor' - that having ships at sea prepared to conduct rescues might encourage more migrants to try the crossing - and use this as an excuse not to save lives. He suggested a fair system of port rotation in the Mediterranean and a distribution mechanism for those eligible for international protection, alongside hotspots in ports managed by EU agencies, UNHCR, and IOM, where people are registered and hosted. 

'Sending migrants to detention camps unacceptable' 

On Libya, the minister said that the country's Coast Guard had intercepted 4,000 people thus far in 2019 and that since the EU spent a large amount of money to train them, it also bears responsibility for the treatment of those rescued. He stressed that it is unacceptable for people to be sent back to detention facilities not under UN control. The statement said that both UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and IOM director general Antonio Vitorino had confirmed that inhuman treatment, slavery, and extortion is suffered by those in Libyan detention facilities.
 

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