Radio Havana Cuba | EU accused of financing dumping of African migrants in Sahara Desert without food or water

Brussels, June 22 (RHC)- The European Union admitted what it called a “difficult situation” after a consortium of journalists said Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania were throwing migrants into the desert, using EU funds.

The extensive investigation carried out by Lighthouse Reports in collaboration with media outlets such as Le Monde and the Washington Post describes the EU as complicit in a “system of mass displacement” and serious human rights violations.

“Europe supports, finances and is directly involved in clandestine operations in North African countries aimed at dumping tens of thousands of black people each year in the desert or in remote areas in order to prevent them from coming to the ‘EU,’ the report said.

Such operations, it said, were “carried out using money, vehicles, equipment, intelligence services and security forces provided by the EU and European countries”.

“It’s a difficult situation. It’s a rapidly evolving situation, and we will continue to work on it,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters when asked about the investigation.

The report said refugees and migrants in Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia were “apprehended based on the color of their skin, loaded onto buses and driven to the middle of nowhere, often arid desert areas”, without water or food.

Others were reportedly taken to border areas where they were “sold by authorities to human traffickers and gangs who torture them for ransom.”

The EU, made up of 27 countries, has concluded agreements with the three named countries with explicit funding to stimulate the cessation of irregular migration to Europe.

Brussels gave 150 million euros ($160 million) to Tunisia in a recent deal, with more promised. It also allocated 210 million euros to Mauritania and 624 million euros to Morocco under cooperation agreements.

The EU’s efforts to get African countries to stem migration flows across the Mediterranean Sea go hand in hand with a recently agreed review of the bloc’s asylum rules. These measures will make EU borders stricter and speed up the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers.

Lighthouse Reports said it interviewed more than 50 black migrants – all from sub-Saharan and West Africa – who had been deported from the three North African countries.

Their testimonies, including videos and photos, “helped us recognize the systematic and racist nature of these practices”, as well as the consortium’s collection of evidence, he added.

The report cites unnamed EU officials who deny that EU funds are being used to violate migrants’ rights. But two EU sources acknowledged it was “impossible” to fully account for how funding from Brussels was used.

The European Commission – the executive arm of the EU – has not explicitly responded to the report’s allegations.

Commission spokesperson Ana Pisonero said: “Sometimes the situation is difficult in our partner countries… (but they) remain sovereign states and they continue to control their national forces.”

She said the EU monitors the programs it funds and takes note of partner countries’ commitments to respect international law and human rights.

Tunisia said that in the first four months of this year it intercepted 21,545 migrants on land or at sea, preventing them from crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. This compares to 17,576 during the same period a year earlier.

Tunisian President Saied has promised that his country will not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries.

In early May, the NGO Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights said authorities had expelled hundreds of asylum seekers, migrants and sub-Saharan refugees from camps in the capital Tunis.

Last July, AFP journalists documented the plight of migrants in the desert on the Tunisian-Libyan border. They had been abandoned there by Tunisian security forces, according to Libyan border guards and the migrants themselves.

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