EU Foreign Ministers to Discuss Med Incident

World » EU | April 20, 2015, Monday // 08:23
Bulgaria: EU Foreign Ministers to Discuss Med Incident A handout picture provided by Guardia di Finanza shows a Ifra-red camera screen shot during an operation to rescue migrants after their wreckship in Strait of Sicily, April 19, 2015. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Foreign ministers of EU member states are set to discuss Sunday's incident in Mediterranean in which hundreds are feared dead.

A vessel carrying up to 700 migrants capsized late on Saturday off Libya. Only 28 have been rescued so far. A survivor is quoted by various news sources as saying there were as many as 950 people on board, about 50 of them children and nearly 200 women.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande had called for an extraordinary EU meeting also involving interior ministers of member states to deal with "this kind of [people] trafficking, because those who bring people onto such ships are traffickers, even terrorists,"

EU internal affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is also to attend the meeting. Avramopoulos canceled his visit to the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, located on the northern coast of Africa, in order to take part in the discussion.

Many Africans try entering the EU via Ceuta and Melilla, cities surrounded by Moroccan territory.

But the Mediterranean stretch between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa has often been used to as an entry point as well, with hundreds losing their lives every month while attempting to flee unrest in Northern Africa and elsewhere on the continent.

Between Monday and Thursday of last week, Italian coast guard officials put the number of African migrants reaching the country to 10 000. In three more days the number bubbled to 13 500.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi also demanded on Sunday that a summit meeting be held. Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries by the refugee influx. The BBC quotes him as saying that Libya was the biggest problem, since some 90% of migrants setting off for Italy started there.

Renzi called human trafficking "the slavery of the 21st century".

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Tags: Italy, Spain, Melilla, Ceuta, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Africa, Libya, Lampedusa, francois hollande, EU, migrants, Matteo Renzi

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