'Illegal EU measures' linked to 2,000 refugee deaths: report
EU border agency Fortex played a key role in driving away refugees who are fleeing war and persecution in their thousands, the report states.
It claimed that several EU countries, aided by Fortex, had relied on "illegal strategies" - including assault, torture in detention centres and forced transportation - to push refugees back from their borders.
In comments made to The Guardian, Professor of Asylum Law at the University of Palermo, Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, said that there appears to be an increase in fatalities amongst migrants trying to reach Europe, according to recent reports.
"At the same time, there has been an increase of the collaboration between EU countries with non-EU countries such as Libya, which has led to the failure of several rescue operations," he told the UK daily.
"In this context, deaths at sea since the beginning of the pandemic are directly or indirectly linked to the EU approach aimed at closing all doors to Europe and the increasing externalisation of migration control to countries such as Libya."
The information gathered by The Guardian includes reports by the UN and NGOs.
Several NGOs have concluded that the use of force against refugees has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
European anti-fraud watchdog Olaf has launched an investigation into Fortex and their possible involvement in the deaths of migrants.
Almost 100,000 immigrants arrived in Europe by sea and by land in 2020, compared with nearly 130,000 in 2019, and 190,000 in 2017, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Thousands have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a bid to reach Europe.
In a 2018 article, The Guardian reported that the vast majority of migrants who have died trying to reach Europe drowned.