New refugee tragedies off the coast of Sicily

According to reports by the UN Refugee Agency and Save the Children, more than 700 refugees died last week after three boats carrying refugees capsized off the coast of Sicily. The Italian coast guard reported that more than 13,000 people were rescued within six days. When will the politicians finally react to this situation?

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Politis (CY) /

Incorrigible mankind

The German humanitarian organization Sea Watch published a photo of a drowned refugee baby at the start of the week and called on the EU to take action. Politis comments on the photo with resignation:

“We will have to get used to these images, if we haven't already. Hundreds of people drowned in the Mediterranean over the last few days - but now they are just a number. The ones before them were also just a number. The photo doesn't just show a baby and a lifeguard. That baby is mankind. It represents the immaturity of the human race across the centuries. This immaturity manifests itself in world wars, in crusades or enslavement and sometimes in massive population movements. The photo is a visual representation of the universal Babel. … Thus history goes on, and this world will probably never change.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Italy must get by on its own

According to the UN Refugee Agency almost 50,000 refugees have arrived in Italy so far this year - roughly as many as in the same period last year. Europe will leave Rome to deal on its own with the refugee problem, Lucio Caracciolo warns in La Repubblica:

“If the increased pressure of the wave of refugees is followed up by tougher controls on the borders with Austria and France, or even a temporary closure of the borders, Italy would be caught in a fatal stranglehold. … Europe won't come to our rescue. Italy must take preventive measures and overcome the migration crisis - which is not a short-term situation but will be normality for the coming decades - with its own resources. That means investing in infrastructure for receiving and integrating refugees if we want to prevent this beautiful country from becoming an archipelago of ghettos and camps. Germany has just passed a series of refugee management measures that will cost tens of billions of euros. … Italy also needs an integration law.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Create legal routes for refugees to save lives

For its part NRC Handelsblad appeals to Europe's sense of solidarity:

“The core of any European refugee policy must be that Europe decides who can come rather than the smugglers and their stooges. Forget the fences, they don't work on the sea. … Europe must create legal routes in exchange for local cooperation in closing the illegal ones. Harsh or not, the Turkey deal is still the best model. … That also means supporting Africa to give people there prospects for the future - and the possibility to apply for asylum from there. Rich Europe with its economic and diplomatic soft power has great resources for this. At least if the European countries act together. … The week of tragedies underscores a catastrophic lack of solidarity. … Hopefully the terrible images will induce the European countries to stop looking away.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Italy's government ignoring state of emergency

The government in Rome is refusing to face the dramatic situation, La Stampa warns:

“If this flood - 15,000 people in just a week - continues over the summer, a state of emergency will have to be declared. In the prime minister's residence people are desperately hoping this won't be the case. But two worrying developments are not being addressed - understandably. ... The first has to do with the reception centres: they have long been hopelessly overcrowded. ... The second has been no more than a suspicion until now: some of the Libyan refugee boats could be controlled by forces opposed to the Libyan government under Fayez al-Sarraj, forces that have an interest in destabilising the new Government of National Accord - which is already having problems establishing itself properly - with all the means at their disposal. ... And another worrying issue must not be forgotten: so far no Syrian refugees have come via Libya. But what will happen if the flood of Syrian refugees also swells once more?”

Sabah (TR) /

Refugees dying because of shortsighted politicians

The pro-government daily Sabah blames the West's irresponsible politicians for the deaths in the Mediterranean:

“First France allowed Gaddafi to set up his tent in the garden of the Élysée Palace, then it bombarded Libya. But is France also mourning the 700 Libyans who, in their attempts to reach Europe and escape death, fell from rocking boats and drowned over the last three days? Why doesn't it ever occur to these small-minded marionettes to learn from the experiences in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya? … The poor people are being murdered, forced to leave their homes and their home countries, and instead of the oil revenues being spent on creating wealth for the people they are being used to finance dictators and arms dealers.”

Svenska Dagbladet (SE) /

Current asylum rules don't work

The EU must start working out a new asylum system immediately, Svenska Dagbladet believes:

“The asylum system we have now encourages desperate people to risk their lives on the Mediterranean Sea. That only serves the interests of unscrupulous people smugglers whose criminal trade rakes in billions per year. ... There has to be a better way. For example we need a serious discussion within the EU about what a different, more efficient and sustainable asylum system could look like. The pressure from migration and refugees is not a temporary problem. It is high time we initiated a debate on alternatives to the current system. Not least because it will take many years before the EU can establish a new order - to the extent that this is even possible. Until then the rescue operations on the Mediterranean must continue. ... There must be more legal options open to refugees, and an equitable distribution system within the EU.”