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Europe News

Emergency call of the Council of the EU on the problems of refugees in the Mediterranean


The European Union has called an emergency meeting of interior ministers to discuss migration.

There is growing concern in the bloc following a recent diplomatic row between France and Italy over the Ocean Viking ship, as well as the arrival of 450 migrants on the Greek island of Crete.

The Cypriot interior minister was one of many politicians to voice his fears.

“We see that traffickers are adopting new methods and means. Now they are using large private boats and commercial vessels to transport migrants,” said Nicos Nouris.

“We see this as a dangerous tactic and we are talking about a lot of people. Honestly, I don’t know how the Mediterranean countries will manage to deal with this new threat,” he explained.

A diplomatic row erupted earlier this month when Italy forced France to accept a humanitarian rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, with 234 migrants on board.

France retaliated by suspending its participation in an EU solidarity pact to accept 3,000 people who arrived in Italy this year and sent agents to reinforce its southern border crossings and prevent migrants from entering.

EU interior ministers are holding emergency talks on Friday in a bid to find a permanent solution.

On the agenda is a proposal to modify the asylum application process so that a refugee submits an application to the embassy of the country where he wishes to live.

Southern Mediterranean countries also want member states to start taking in more refugees.

So far, member states have offered to take in less than 2,000 migrants out of the 160,000 who arrive on European shores each year.

For years member countries have argued over who should bear responsibility for those who arrive and whether partner countries should be obliged to help.

Unable to agree, the nations have sought to externalize the problem by striking deals with North African countries like Libya.

EU countries and the Commission have also rejected any attempt to set up a concerted search and rescue mission to deal with the problem, arguing that such a program would only attract more people.

euronews Gt

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