Dr Julia Reid MEP, who represents the South West Counties and Gibraltar, spoke in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to address the issue of cooperation between Human Traffickers and NGOs engaged in search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

Dr Reid said: “The important debate this afternoon, on the links between human traffickers and NGOs, would not have been possible if it were not for the EFDD group making this initiative. This is an important topic and needs to be addressed and not simply brushed under the carpet.

“In December last year, the Financial Times published excerpts from a leaked Frontex report that suggested there was a high level of co-operation between people smugglers and NGOs. The leaked report claimed that criminal networks have been assisting migrants by giving clear indications on which directions they need to take to reach the NGO boats. Unforgivably, there have also been reported cases where migrants have been smuggled directly onto NGO vessels, so it is alleged.

“It not just criminal gangs and NGOs who are benefitting from this crisis, but also Islamic extremism. Current migration policies adopted by the EU and Chancellor Merkel have enabled terrorist organisations, such as ISIS, to smuggle their supporters into Europe, which has enabled them to carry out a number of attacks.

“Opening up Europe’s doors indiscriminately has not only put the lives of migrants, who make the treacherous journey, at risk but also the lives of ordinary Europeans who now face the threat of terrorism on a daily basis.

“UKIP have said from the very start of this crisis that we need to have a tough but fair policy on this crisis to stop innocent lives being lost at sea and to stop the profiteering of criminal gangs and ISIS. To date, the UK Government has committed over £2.3 billion to helping refugees in Syria and the region; the second largest donor. Since its inception, almost four and a half thousand Syrians have entered the UK under the Syrian vulnerable person settlement programme. Perhaps the EU would do better to follow the UK’s example, rather than have desperate people paying vast sums of money to smugglers, who only view them as a disposable commodity.”

ENDS