Bangladeshi nationals may soon face restrictions to receiving the Schengen visa if the country does not take back the asylum seekers expelled from Europe, states a Reuters report.
The decision, targeting all countries whose nationals have no right of asylum in Europe, was taken by the European Union states at a two-day meeting in Brussels on Friday in efforts to crack down on illegal immigration across the Mediterranean, which has seen an increase since 2014.
The bloc’s 28 leaders, therefore, have unanimously agreed to use “all possible levers, including… reassessing visa policy toward third countries”.
According to the report, Italy is currently the main gateway to the bloc and “most of those reaching European shores after boarding smugglers’ boats in Africa are considered illegal labor migrants.”
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Bangladeshi diplomats in Tripoli said that European countries have become very strict about refugees entering Europe. The only unregulated channel is the perilous voyage across the Mediterranean.
The Italian Ministry of Interior’s statistics support the reports’ claim that Bangladesh is just behind Nigeria as the single largest point of origin for migrants arriving by sea.
The first 100 days of 2017 saw 4,645 Bangladeshis illegally arrive in Italy. Over the same period of time in 2016, there were only three Bangladeshis making the same trip.
In 2016, a record high 8,131 Bangladeshi national were registered by authorities at landing points in Italy. In the first 120 days of 2017, 4,645 Bangladeshi have already been registered, 60% of last year’s total.
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The Bangladeshi embassy in Tripoli confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune that an average of 30-40 Bangladeshis enter Libya on a daily basis to cross the Mediterranean to Italy by boat.
Although, Law Minister Annisul Huq assured the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos in May during a meeting in Brussels that the Bangladesh government would do everything possible to bring back its illegal citizens, the EU states remain unconvinced, reports bdnews24.
“We can use visas to convince them to take returns,” said a senior EU diplomat, adding the move would, among other things, target the ruling elites of these countries as they can afford trips to Europe.
At loggerheads over how to handle refugees who make it into the bloc, EU leaders demanded further action be taken to stem the flow of migrants from Libya to Italy, along the Central Mediterranean route, reads a European Council statement. The leaders have also reiterated the need to reform the common asylum system.