EU leaders to pledge rescue for migrants, but no fix for problem
EU members will change a reduction in rescue operations in the Mediterranean on Thursday to try to avoid record numbers of people drowning as they try to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.
An emergency EU summit was called after up to 900 went down on a single boat on Sunday. This EU summit in Brussels will do little else beyond holding camps for migrants, including attacks on smugglers on which the 28 states are divided.
Angela Merkel, the bloc’s prominent leader, said on arrival that Europe’s values and credibility in the rest of the world were on the line “and so the issue today is of the greatest importance, in terms of saving human lives”.
Underlining global attention, the United Nations criticized the European response so far and requested it to do more: “The European Union response needs to go beyond the present minimalist approach which focuses primarily on resisting the arrival of migrants and refugees on its shores.”
David Cameron, British Prime Minister, wielded the EU’s biggest defence budget in assuring his navy’s helicopter-carrying flagship and two other vessels to an operation he previously refused to support for fear of tempting more people out to sea.
But he emphasized those picked up would not automatically be given refuge in Britain and would mostly be delivered to Italy, whose prime minister, Matteo Renzi, said he was optimistic that his European allies would no longer let Rome struggle alone.
Europe must eagerly set up an effective rescue operation for migrants at sea and commit to receiving significantly higher numbers of refugees, top UN officials and the International Organization for Migration said.