“Hundreds Drown Off Libya, EU Leaders Forced to Reconsider Migrant Crisis”
Reuters, April 19, 2015
“As many as 700 migrants were feared dead on Sunday after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean, raising pressure on Europe to face down anti-immigrant bias and find money for support as turmoil in Libya and the Middle East worsens the crisis. If the death toll is confirmed, it will bring to 1,500 the total number of people who died this year seeking to reach Europe – a swelling exodus that prompted Europe to downsize its seek and rescue border protection program in a bid to deter them. International aid groups strongly criticized the decision. … French President Francois Hollande said the EU had to do more, telling Canal+ television that rescue and disaster prevention efforts needed ‘more boats, more over flights and a much more intense battle against people trafficking.’ ‘More EU countries must take responsibility for the refugee situation,’ said Sweden’s Minister for Justice and migration Morgan Johansson. He called for an expansion of the EU’s Triton border protection program, the scheme that recently replaced a broader search and rescue mission run by Italy. … Yet [Italian PM Matteo] Renzi warned that resolving the crisis was not only a matter of search and rescue at sea. He said a concerted international effort was needed to locate and stop people traffickers, many of whom have flourished during the chaos among warring clans in Libya. … Aid groups have called for the opening of a ‘humanitarian corridor’ to ensure the safety of the migrants but in Italy there were also calls to stop the boats from leaving and even to destroy them. The leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, called for an immediate naval blockade of the coast of Libya while Daniela Santanche, a prominent member of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party said Italy’s navy must ‘sink all the boats.’ Libya’s lawless state, following the toppling of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has left criminal gangs of migrant smugglers free to send a stream of boats carrying desperate migrants from Africa and the Middle East.”
Quickie analysis: The EU has no good options here.