EU addresses immigration as another boat of migrants is rescued
24 October 2013
A boat of rescued migrants off the coast of Lampedusa
ROME - The Italian Coast Guard rescued another 150 migrants aboard a distressed vessel near Lampedusa on Thursday, as EU leaders convened for a summit in Brussels, with plans to address a proposal calling for a "fair sharing of responsibility" in immigration.
Attention towards the immigration crisis in southern Europe has increased significantly over the past month as several shipwrecks in the Mediterranean have taken the lives of over 350 migrants. The October disasters forced Italy to launch new efforts to increase patrols and increase aid in the area, which so far have resulted in the rescue of over 500 distressed migrants. On Thursday, Coast Guard officials rescued 150 African migrants off the coast of Lampedusa who were in an old fishing boat that had become distressed in the troubled seas. Despite the increased success of rescue efforts, Italian leaders continue to request assistance from the EU to combat the problem.
On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta stated that Europe "cannot sit there and watch" as these disasters unfold, arguing that "the drama of Lampedusa is a European issue." He asked for "immediate action" to resolve the crisis and to increase support to Frontex, the EU border agency that has faced a budget cut reducing its funding from €188 million in 2011 to €85 million in 2013.
Wednesday night, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for better surveillance and stated that "the Mediterranean has become a kind of open-air cemetery," while Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for his European partners to "double our efforts to prevent tragedies of this nature from happening again," stating that these measures are "necessary".
EU leaders will discuss the draft proposal on immigration Thursday afternoon.