A shipwreck off Lampedusa that killed hundreds of asylum seekers is set to dominate talks on Tuesday between EU internal affairs ministers, with the EU Commission expected to push for maritime patrols to cope with the constant flood of refugees.
A shipwreck off Lampedusa that killed hundreds of African asylum seekers is set to dominate talks Tuesday between EU internal affairs ministers, with the EU Commission expected to push for maritime patrols to cope with the constant flood of refugees arriving on Europe's shores.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said before the meeting that she would propose "a big Frontex operation right across the Mediterranean, from Cyprus to Spain, for a big save and rescue operation".
Frontex is the EU agency set up in 2004 to halt illegal immigration into Europe. Based in Warsaw, it is reported to have saved 16,000 lives in the Mediterranean over the last two years. But due to budget cuts across Europe, its budget has fallen from €118 million ($160 million) in 2011 to €90 million in 2012 and down to €85 this year.
More bodies recovered
As the home affairs ministers from the 28 EU member states gathered in Brussels, divers brought up four more bodies off Lampedusa amid an ongoing search for the more than 200 still missing after a ship carrying up to 500 Eritrean and Somalian refugees sank on October 3.
Rescuers pulled 155 people from the sea after the boat sank and so far 235 bodies have been found. The final toll is expected to be between 300 and 360 dead.
Malmstroem will join European Commmission president José Manuel Barroso when he travels to the site of the shipwreck on Wednesday.
Italy has appealed to EU states for help in coping with the refugees washing up on its shore and wants migration issues to be put on the agenda of summit talks in Brussels at the end of the month.
Italy says 30,000 migrants have arrived so far this year -- more than four times the number from last year -- and says that other nations, particularly in wealthier northern Europe, should share the burden.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-10-08