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Shock at the refugee tragedy

Many people in Germany have been shocked by the tragedy on the Mediterranean that cost so many refugees their lives. The German government too, "deeply regrets the loss of so many lives in the sea off Lampedusa," declared government spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin.

He continued on monday, "We are all too aware that it was an act of despair, that these men and women were fleeing unbearable living conditions and that they had no doubt pinned all their hopes on Europe."

Need to improve sea rescue operations

The ministers of the interior of all 28 EU member states, meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October, discussed how to prevent any future humanitarian disasters of the sort Lampedusa has just seen. Federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich proposed taking technical steps to improve sea rescue operations.

EU provides 30 million euros in emergency aid

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso too was appalled by the dimensions of the disaster when he visited Lampedusa. "Europe cannot simply look away, " he said. He announced that the EU would provide emergency aid worth 30 million euros. The funds are to be used primarily to extend the reception centre for refugees.

The EU must do its best to prevent people fleeing their home countries in the first place, he declared. "We need a genuinely common European policy on asylum and immigration," said the President of the European Commission.  The EU must also  work with non-EU states to find options for "legal migration" and to take a hard line against traffickers.

The EU must "share the burden" of taking in refugees, said José Manuel Barroso. He was thinking particularly of Germany, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Belgium, he said, the nations who take in the lion’s share of asylum-seekers.

Friday, 11. October 2013

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