News / Europe

Italy, Malta Say EU Must Press Libya to Stop Boat Migration

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) and Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat take part in a news conference at Muscat's office at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta, Nov. 11, 2013.
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta (L) and Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat take part in a news conference at Muscat's office at the Auberge de Castille in Valletta, Malta, Nov. 11, 2013.
Reuters
Italy on Monday called on the European Union to press Libya to stem the gangs smuggling migrants from Africa on overcrowded boats and prevent shipwrecks like the one that killed hundreds last month.
    
More than 360 people drowned off the coast of Sicily on Oct. 3. The mostly Eritrean migrants had sailed from Libya, where smugglers mistreated them and made them pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to be carried to Europe.
    
"There needs to be an EU initiative with Libya to try to manage differently patrols and border controls," Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said after meeting Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in Valletta.
    
Letta's comments come three days after Sicilian investigators arrested a man for kidnapping, extortion and rape of some of the Eritreans who survived last month's shipwreck.
    
The horror stories told to Italian prosecutors by the migrants confirmed the worst fears of humanitarian groups about conditions in increasingly unstable Libya.
    
Two years after the NATO-backed overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, rival militias continue to battle for power and the prime minister was briefly taken hostage last month.
    
"We must send a strong message that we are dealing with human beings. This also means tackling criminal networks of people-smugglers," Muscat said.
    
Italy, Malta and Greece have borne much of the brunt of the EU's two-decade-long immigration crisis, and all have called for more EU-wide support.
    
In the absence of a coordinated EU response, Italy has deployed naval vessels, helicopters and unmanned drones to try to prevent further tragedies at sea. Letta said the mission had saved hundreds of lives in the past month and put pressure on smugglers, who he called "merchants of death".
    
Malta is preparing to send a military vessel to Libya to help patrol the coast and prevent boats carrying migrants from departing, Muscat said.
    
Letta said the EU's entire approach to the Mediterranean over the past two decades had been wrong, and that Italy would push for an overhaul in the 28-country bloc's policies in the region when it holds the rotating presidency next year.
    
"We need a new European policy toward Africa and the Middle East," Letta said.
    
Separately, the two leaders said Italy and Malta would probably reach an agreement on offshore oil and gas exploration early next year.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid