Two U.N. experts on the human rights of migrants warned Friday that force will not stop Europe’s migration crisis or deter smugglers.
Francois Crepeau, the U.N. special investigator on migrant rights, and Francisco Carrion, head of the U.N. Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers, criticized a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the European Union to inspect and use of force against boats in the high seas suspected of being used to smuggle migrants from Libya.
Crepeau said “humankind is wired for migration” and the only way to get rid of smugglers is to offer mobility to refugees and migrants.
“In the name of controlling the border, states have lost control of the border because they have no clue who is getting in because the smugglers are in control of the market,” Crepeau said at a news conference.
He said Europe should do for Syrian, Eritrean and perhaps Afghan refugees what the U.S. and other countries did almost 40 years ago for refugees from Vietnam and Indochina: implement massive resettlement programs from transit countries over many years.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,” said Crepeau, a law professor at McGill University in Montreal. “Europe and the rest of the world are facing mass migration not for this year or next year but for the decade to come, at least, if not decades to come.”
He said two million refugees from the Middle East should be resettled in Europe over five years, which means 400,000 per year, divided by either the 28 European countries or the 32 countries in the global north.
“It’s totally manageable,” Crepeau said. “We’ve done it in the past. We can do it again. We’re richer, more populous than we were 40 years ago.”
As for migrants who can’t put food on their table at home and spend months trying to get to Europe, he said they will come because there are low-paid jobs for them in underground labor markets in construction, agriculture, hospitality, fisheries and mineral extraction.
“Employers are actually clamoring for that cheap labor even though politicians say they want to seal the border,” Crepeau said. “There’s part of the business community that says, ‘not too much please. We still need people’.”
Cracking down on the migrants only entrenches unscrupulous employers and the smugglers and recruiters who feed the market, he said.
What should be done is to crack down on the employers and reduce the underground markets, Crepeau said.
Then, governments can open borders and offer “smart visas” to anyone who wants to come and look for a job, which is what happened in the 1950s and 1960s when millions of Africans and Turks entered Europe, he said.
“No one died. There was no smuggling. Why? Because they could come with visas and work permits,” Crepeau said.
Carrion said only 48 countries, all developing nations, have ratified the convention on protecting the human rights of migrants. He urged European and other countries where migrants head to become parties to the convention.