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EU promises action on migrant crisis

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 02:39

EU foreign ministers promised to do more to stop migrant deaths in the Mediterranean after a weekend tragedy that killed up to 700 people put pressure on the bloc to act. Ivor Bennett reports

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Just 28 survivors arrived in Malta after a journey through hell. Also on board, a reminder of the horrors they escaped. 24 bodies have been recovered so far from Sunday's shipwreck, out of an estimated 700. The migrant deaths off the coast of Libya mark one of the worst disasters yet in the crisis unfolding on Europe's doorstep. Meeting her counterparts in Luxembourg, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said it was time to act. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF, FEDERICA MOGHERINI, SAYING: "I felt it was our moral duty to concentrate also our responsibility as Europeans to prevent this kind of tragedies to happen again and again." The EU scaled back its search and rescue efforts in October. Fearing, in the words of the German Interior minister, it had become 'a bridge to Europe'. But with up to 1500 migrants perishing already this year, the EU is under pressure to respond. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY PHILIP HAMMOND SAYING: "That response has got to include targeting the criminals who are managing this traffic of human suffering. We've got to tackle them. We've got to work upstream in the countries from which these people are coming. We are determined to put an end to this vile trade." As if there was any doubting the urgency of the crisis, another fatal shipwreck as ministers met. At least three migrants killed as their vessel ran aground off the Greek island of Rhodes. Despite the dangers, many see the Mediterranean as the only way out. Fleeing violence and economic hardship. Per capita income is 30 times higher in the EU than in many African states. Most aim for Italy. This boat carrying 98 migrants arrived in Sicily overnight. But the country says it shouldn't just be their problem, and BGC's Mike Ingram agrees. SOUNDBITE (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET ANALYST, BGC MARKETS, SAYING: "Italy in some ways is very ill-equipped to deal with this situation because of course their economy has been one of the biggest laggards in the European Union post-crisis. Looking again at the figures this morning their economy is more or less 10 percent smaller than it was in 2008. So it lacks the capacity to cope with this humanitarian crisis." The EU's current border patrol - Triton - was launched in November with just seven boats, two planes and one helicopter. Increasing the resources though may not be easy. Despite the public promises, agreement in private can take a lot longer.

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EU promises action on migrant crisis

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 02:39