Refugees: Is UN's criticism of EU justified?

The UN has sharply criticised the EU for cooperating with the Libyan coastguard service in the interception of refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean. This had led to a marked rise in the number of people living in dreadful conditions in Libyan 'detention centres', the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said. Some commentators agree, while others praise Italy and the EU for adopting a mediating role.

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Avvenire (IT) /

Italy's pact with the devil

The Italian government is partially responsible for the dreadful conditions in which refugees in libya are living, Avvenire criticises:

“The refugee agreement signed by the Italian government in Rome in February was bound to bring about this development. Because it was worked out with a failed state and mainly affected human trafficking, the most lucrative business for the warlords, who are trying to compensate for the loss of oil revenues any way they can. Yes, the agreement has halved the number of those arriving in Europe and increased the number of those who voluntarily return from Libya to their countries of origin. Nevertheless it's long been clear that it is in fact a pact with the devil. Because it has legitimised the deeds of people who entrap and torture defenceless refugees.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Take action instead of admonishing others

The United Nations should take action itself and not just admonish others, Corriere della Sera writes defending Rome's agreement with Libya:

“Ultimately it's only thanks to Italy and the EU that the UN's refugee agency the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration were given access to the prison camps. And now there is the possibility of setting up a large reception centre in the Tripoli area where refugees can be accommodated and identified to facilitate their being taken in as asylum seekers in European states. This is the right way to save human lives and create acceptable living conditions for them. But to achieve all this, joint action is needed. Sermonising won't help to solve the problems.”