Opinion: Can African Migrant Drownings In The Mediterranean Be Stopped?

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Written by Dana Sanchez

The African migrants who die trying to cross the Mediterranean are victims of human trafficking and the money they pay is helping to fund terrorist networks, according to German parliamentarian Charles Huber.

In a DW interview, Huber said emergency assistance on humanitarian grounds is the right thing to do but it’s a short-term solution. “In fact, the more people we take in, the more they’re going to send us – and the more money the traffickers and the criminal gangs will make,” Huber said.

The question is not whether we need legal forms of migration, but how to stop human traffickers who bring migrants across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa in boats that sometimes sink.

The son of a Senegalese diplomat, Huber serves on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the speaker of the Christian Democratic Union parliamentary group for Africa. He is also an actor.

One way of solving the problem could be to patrol near the coastline just outside the three-mile zone of the North African countries’ territorial waters., Huber said.

“What we’re dealing with here is a joint venture between terrorist networks and organized crime,” Huber said. “Some of the refugees are integrated into these networks: the women in prostitution, the men in selling drugs. Saying that may sound like the criminalization of people who have come here to escape suffering. But this is the reality. It’s certainly not true of all of them, but for a shockingly high number it is. We must not support these business practices.”

Some 36,390 people have managed to safely reach Italy, Greece or Malta in the first few months of 2015, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Tuesday on Twitter, according to CNN.

Syria is the top country of origin for the migrants. Other countries where the most migrants have come from include Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Nigeria, CNN reports.