Another refugee tragedy in the Mediterranean
What is possibly the worst refugee tragedy in recent times occurred off the Libyan coast on Saturday night. According to eyewitnesses, more than 900 people may have drowned. Only stabilising war-torn Syria and Libya will prevent people from fleeing, some commentators write. Others call on Fortress Europe to open its doors wide.
Stabilise the situation in Libya and Syria
Only if the international community manages to stabilise conflict-ridden Syria and Libya can refugee disasters be prevented, the conservative daily ABC writes: "The reality which the EU refuses to accept is that the hell of the wars in Libya and Syria is crossing the Mediterranean and closing in on our coasts in the form of the desperate refugees who seek refuge wherever they can. If thousands of people put themselves in the hands of smugglers and risk their lives on such a dangerous crossing it's because staying on the shore is even more dangerous. All we have to do is put ourselves in their position to realise what Europe's response should be. … It's not realistic to continue ignoring the fact that until the situation in Libya and Syria stabilises, the problem will only escalate. What's more, the longer these conflicts go on, the more likely it is that they will spread to other countries."
Africa also needs to take action
Europe must take action to prevent the refugee tragedies occurring on its doorstep - but not all on its own, the conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung stresses: "The causes [for the mass flight] are to be found in Africa and other crisis areas. But naturally that doesn't release Europe from its responsibility conferred by history, its own standards and its concrete policies - a security and economic policy that must be subject to constant scrutiny. [The EU] must for example consider the option of not only accepting applications in Europe. … However nor can Europe be branded as the main perpetrator of a kind of mass murder: where are the cries of the African leaders? Where are their crash programmes to prevent their continent from bleeding to death? The accusation that Europe is responsible for all the misery is also a brand of neo-colonialism. Africa doesn't deserve this."
Time for an entirely new asylum policy
The EU urgently needs a change of course in its immigration policy, the conservative daily Le Figaro believes: "François Hollande, who is 'celebrating' his three years in office in the Elysee Palace, on Sunday promised 'several additional boats'. The EU Commission in Brussels is preparing an 'aggressive strategy' for May, aimed above all at strengthening the EU border protection agency Frontex. But all that is insufficient. In the absence of any state partner in Tripoli, the Europeans need a UN mandate for playing the police off the Libyan coast - where they stand the best chances of deterring illegal immigrants, arresting traffickers and preventing refugee tragedies. Once these priorities are accomplished, it will be time to review the regulations for asylum and the free movement of people in the EU, in order to come up with a humane and political answer to the question of migration."
Open up Fortress Europe
To prevent tragedies from recurring in the Mediterranean, the EU must open its doors wide, the left-liberal daily Tages-Anzeiger urges: "There's only one way to put an immediate end to the deaths on the Mediterranean. The EU states (and Switzerland) must establish ferry routes or air connections with the countries to the south. We're dealing with hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of people fleeing from war and misery. If we want to prevent dramas like this from recurring off the shores of Libya or Lampedusa, the only solution is to fling open the doors of Fortress Europe. And we must make safe transportation available. That will stop the human smugglers' trade overnight. Most of the refugees in Europe's unstable neighbours will flood into the states of the EU. These states will have to agree on a way to distribute them fairly."