- United States
The European Union (EU) is planning on finalizing its project of using Drone technology for apprehending potential illegal immigrants trying to cross into the Schengen Area. The project, called EUROSUR, is part of a surveillance program costing $410 million designed to uplift the border security conditions of the EU countries, particularly those beside the Mediterranean Sea.
The EUROSUR is designed to use all available surveillance equipment as drones, high resolution cameras, satellites and spy planes and monitor the borders of the EU countries and detect migrant vessels at the sea.
The program will enable the EU to curb the number of 1 to 3 million immigrants that annually migrate to the European Countries. It will also enable the border forces to avoid fatal accidents that the illegal immigrants fall victim to while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, which is one of the central hubs for immigrants entering into Europe. Since January this year, more than a thousand migrants on board a total of 44 vessels have been detected on the coast of Andalusia.
The number of deaths is also increasing at an alarming rate due to accidents on or off the shore. Approximately 1,500 migrants have disappeared or died while attempting to illegally enter Europe in 2011, according to a report issued by the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency. The number has already reached 170 this year.
Reports of boat accidents and disappearances have been coming throughout the year. Recently a boat carrying 54 Eritreans sunk miles off the Italian coast killing all on board. Another boat reported of carrying 20 people also sank near the French island of Mayotte killing all 20 migrants.
“EUROSUR will help detect and fight criminal networks’ activities and be crucial tool for saving migrants who put their lives at risk trying to reach EU shores,” said the EU’s commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom.
But some officials believe that the project is aimed only at solving the problem of preventing potential illegal immigrants from entering the European continent and not saving their lives or providing them humanitarian assistance. They also said that such measures might also affect those asylum seekers who intend to escape from the unbearable and unlivable conditions of their home countries and come to the EU.
A think-tank in Germany called the Heinrich Boil foundation has accused the project of pooling in valuable and personal data into a vulnerable database, putting all at risk of being exposed. They said that the possibilities of unknown individuals having access to the data are immense.
In response to such accusations, the European Commission assured the people that the database of EUROSUR will only contain surveillance information required to detect and apprehend vessels carrying illegal immigrant.
“The situational picture will, as a general rule, not involve personal data but rather the exchange of information on incidents and depersonalized objects, such as the detection and tracking of vessels,” said the commission.
The storage period of the data is also uncertain as whether it would be temporary or permanent, meaning will the data be stored for an indefinite period of time or will it be deleted after becoming obsolete.
Tags: Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commission, European Union, EUROSUR, Heinrich Boil foundation, Mediterranean Sea, Schengen Area, United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency