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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid