UK aid can help deter Mediterranean migrants, says Fallon
21 June 2015
From the section UK
The UK overseas aid budget should be used to “stabilise” countries and “discourage” mass migration, the defence secretary has said.
Speaking to the BBC, Michael Fallon said “well-focused aid” could “prevent conflict breaking out… so that we don’t have to fish people out of the Mediterranean later on”.
EU states should also pool intelligence on trafficking gangs, he said.
More than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean so far this year.
That is a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.
The UK government has sent Royal Navy warship HMS Bulwark to the coast of Libya to aid search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean.
Britain has not signed up to proposals from the European Commission to redistribute tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived in Italy and Greece to other countries.
Mr Fallon told The Andrew Marr Show: “It is a European problem now, perhaps half a million people trying to cross this year.
“We know already the traffickers are ringing the Italian coastguard and telling them when the boats are setting off.
“We can use our overseas aid budget, and this is where it should be used, to help stabilise some of these countries and discourage this kind of mass migration from them.
“Well focused aid should be used to help stabilise these countries, to prevent conflict breaking out.”
Mr Fallon also said there should be more sharing of intelligence to deal with the “roots” of the migration problem.
“At the moment we are simply dealing with the symptoms of the problem, helping to rescue people in the Mediterranean,” he said.
“There has got to be a much more comprehensive approach tackling the problem much further back.”
Asked whether the EU could consider a naval blockade of the northern coast of Africa, Mr Fallon said: “That is a matter for Europe to look to see… It is a very long coast.
“That is a difficult operation. I think what is more important is to pool the intelligence we have to go much further back in Africa.”
Source:: BBC UK