Friday, June 2, 2023

Emergency EU Council convened over refugee concerns in the Mediterranean

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The European Union has called an emergency meeting of Home Affairs ministers to discuss migration.

There is a growing concern in the bloc following a recent diplomatic row between France and Italy over the Ocean Viking ship, as well as the arrival of 450 migrants on the Greek island of Crete.

The Cypriot Minister of the Interior was one of many politicians to express his fears.

“We are seeing that traffickers are adopting new methods and means. Now, they use large private boats, and commercial ships to transport migrants,” said Nicos Nouris.

“We consider this to be a dangerous tactic and we are talking about large numbers of people. Honestly, I don’t know how the Mediterranean countries will manage to face this new threat,” he explained.

A diplomatic row erupted earlier this month when Italy forced France to accept a humanitarian rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, with 234 migrants aboard.

France retaliated by suspending its participation in an EU solidarity pact to accept 3,000 people who had arrived this year in Italy and sent officers to reinforce its southern border crossings and prevent migrants from entering.

EU Home Affairs ministers are holding emergency talks on Friday in an effort to find a permanent solution.

On the agenda is a proposal to change the asylum application process so that a refugee submits a request to the embassy of the country where they want to live.

Southern Mediterranean countries also want member states to start taking in more refugees.

Member states have so far offered to take in less than 2,000 out of 160,000 migrants that arrive on European shores every year.

For years, member countries have argued over who should take responsibility for those arriving and whether partner countries should be obliged to help. 

Unable to agree, the nations have sought to outsource the problem by clinching deals with north African countries like Libya.

EU countries and the Commission have also rejected any attempts to set up a concerted search and rescue mission to deal with the problem, arguing that such a scheme would only attract more people.



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