EU ministers create smokescreen over refugees from North Africa
(Brussels, 12 May 2011) Today sees this year’s third attempt by European Union justice and home affairs ministers to rise to the challenge posed by the humanitarian crisis in North Africa. Amnesty International has expressed concern at how the EU and member states are responding to fallout from political unrest in Tunisia and the displacement caused by the armed conflict in Libya. The meeting will also address French and Italian calls to reintroduce frontier checks in the ‘borderless’ Schengen Area.
“The ministers’ real agenda is to block the arrival of desperately vulnerable people”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.”They haven’t made a single tangible commitment to receive refugees from North Africa. Instead they’re creating a smokescreen, tinkering with unnecessary measures, and playing to the political gallery while failing to share out responsibility for receiving people.”
Amnesty International has urged the EU and its member states to put its migration challenges from North Africa into perspective. “Libya’s neighbours have received most of the people who have fled the conflict, over 710,000 of them”, said Beger. “Some 30,000 have arrived on European shores. These modest numbers oughtn’t to strain protection and reception systems. Every day, people are risking their lives in unseaworthy boats, many drowning at sea or dying of dehydration. We hear deeply alarming reports of NATO forces turning their backs on these desperate people. There must be an urgent investigation into these serious allegations.”
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