MED 5 calls for more support from the EU fearing a possible peak in migration due to the war in Ukraine

A group of Mediterranean countries, known as the MED 5, have called for more support from the EU, fearing the fallout from the war in Ukraine could cause an increase in migration to the bloc.

Ministers from Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Spain gathered in the town of Paphos in Cyprus on Friday and Saturday for the fourth MED 5 meeting, although representatives from Italy did not attend.

The group called for more action to protect the EU’s external borders, noting that more pressure should be put on Turkey to monitor its borders and prevent migrants from leaving its territory.

“Now is the time for the EU, collectively and in a coordinated way, to demand that Turkey controls its borders, prevents illegal departures from its territory and takes action against illegal traffickers, as it should,” said Greek Immigration Minister Notis Mitarakis.

He stressed the need to relaunch the return process to Turkey, based on a migration agreement signed between Ankara and Brussels in 2016.

The group expressed fears that the war in Ukraine could push a large number of people to want to come to Europe, while the situation in their country of origin becomes more difficult.

“The impact of the war and rising commodity prices have resulted in a new wave of economic migrants,” said Bryon Camilleri, Malta’s Home Minister.

“Sub-Saharan migrants who initially sought employment in Libya turn to smugglers when things don’t go as planned. People are dying around us! One tragedy after another. From Lebanon to the Atlantic,” he said.

The war in Ukraine has fueled global energy, food and inflation crises, with the UN warning in October that the world was on the brink of a recession.

While the EU already spends large sums to police its common external border, the MED 5 countries have previously claimed that this is only aimed at detaining large numbers of people in border countries.

At the meeting, the assembled nations reiterated their desire to adopt a holistic approach, which would see other EU countries take on more responsibility.

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