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Stemming migrant tragedy at sea

June 18th, 2014
09:13 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

As Italy warns that it may stop rescuing migrants trying to cross it borders over the Mediterranean, an advocate on the front lines says its time for Europe to step up and help save these desperate people.

“More and more people are leaving out of desperation, and far too many are dying along the migratory route,” William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration told CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour.

“We're in a period of unprecedented human mobility and unprecedented multiple complex humanitarian emergencies from Libya to Syria to South Sudan to Central African Republic, Somalia and then all the natural disasters such as the typhoon in the Philippines.”

Italy’s interior minister, Angelino Alfano, says his government cannot handle the volume of people making the journey across the Mediterranean Sea unless the EU steps in to help.

Last October, the country set up a program, Mare Nostrum – the Roman name for the Mediterranean – to deal with the crisis of migrants drowning en route to Europe.

“We believe that there should be shared responsibility among all of the countries that have been receiving migrants,” Swing said. “The top priority has to be to save life.”

Right now, he said, there “are no political processes in place” that seem to have any potential.

“The numbers are great – and I wouldn't make light of that – but you're talking about 50,000 migrants going to an area that is approximately 450 million or 500 million people in all of Europe.”

“So surely there must be a way somehow to share that responsibility.”

Filed under:  Immigration • Latest Episode
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Accepting migrants will not resolve problems back in the countries of origin. A zero tolerance policy on the settlement of migrants is the only way of stopping the flow. Australia's zero tolerance policy has stopped the boats. This is the precedent.

    The bigger and more complex issue is for Europe to positively engage with the countries of origin to resolve the migration issue at its source. Easier said than done.

    June 18, 2014 at 10:38 am | Reply
    • Anna Zammit

      I agree with you 100% I live on the tiny island of Malta and we too are having a lot of problems.. being such a small island it has been difficult for us because of the migrants. It has effected our economy etc.. as it is hard enough for the local inhabitants to find jobs.. the migrants work for cheap wages making it even harder for us to find jobs. I do feel for these people but Malta cannot be left alone with Italy to carry the burden.. we simply cannot afford it.

      June 23, 2014 at 4:40 am | Reply
  2. Ousman Jaiteh (Gambia)

    EU should help Italy and Malta to protect the Migrants because they are heading to Italy and some to Malta due to hardship and frustration they are facing in Northern Africa.

    July 6, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Reply
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