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Mediterranean migrant tragedy: rapporteur calls for a co-ordinated European response

“I am deeply shocked and saddened by yet another incident in the series of tragedies occurring in the Mediterranean Sea, involving the capsizing of a double-decker boat full of migrants some 120 kilometres from Lampedusa, in which over 400 people are feared to have drowned,” said Daphne Dumery (Belgium, NI), rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on “The Mediterranean Sea: a front door to irregular migration”.

“We have witnessed a dramatic worsening of the situation over recent weeks as warm weather and improving sea conditions prompted an even higher number of boats than usual to set off from north Africa,” she pointed out. “In a single week, Italy’s coastguard rescued nearly 6 000 migrants. The total number of those who have entered Italy since the beginning of the year is more than 15 000. At the same time about 480 others have lost their lives – and this figure does not take into account the most recent tragedy. 70 000 more people are believed to be in wait at the Libyan coast to be taken across the sea. Traffickers did not hesitate to shoot at the Italian guards who were trying to rescue people, in order to recuperate their vessel,” she added.

“The humanitarian plight of these people has become unbearable,” said the rapporteur. “The human rights of refugees, on the one hand, as well as the fight against unscrupulous traffickers, on the other, should be addressed at a European level as a matter of priority.”