AUSTRIA PROPOSES TO CLOSE THE MEDITERRANEAN ROUTE FOR REFUGEES – Intense reactions against the proposal

Intense reactions have emerged followed the proposal by Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurtz for the complete closing of the so-called Mediterranean Route for Refugees and Immigrants.

Mr Kurtz now asks refugees rescued in the Mediterranean to be transported directly to reception centres in Tunisia or Egypt, which has been categorically rejected by the former, while strong reservations are expressed by the latter.

According to the Foreign Minister’s suggestion, for refugees coming from war zones, resettlement programs would be the only way to reach Europe, and for this to be the case for international organisations in crisis areas to choose people to relocate. In his view, in this way, Europe would be more targeted to help the weak, not those who are able to pay the illegal traffickers.

With his earlier initiative, Sebastian Kurtz had asked the European Union to adopt the “Australian model” in the refugee issue and to turn Mitilini and Lampedusa into refugee detention camps, which had caused a shock of protests in many respects.

Austria’s federal chancellor and head of the Social Democrats, Cristian Cern, has provoked Sebastian Kurt’s proposal, pointing out that the proposal is impossible to implement, refers to the high cost, the risk of terrorism, the possible destabilization of North Africa and the need to invest in these countries and to create normal immigration conditions.

The Kurtz proposal was categorically rejected by the UN refugee expert and UNHCR official Kilian Klinsmint as inappropriate.