Tuesday

16th Jan 2018

Mediterranean migrant disaster gets muted response

  • Last year a deadly tragedy promted the EU to triple its financing for rescue missions on the Mediterranean (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

Up to 500 are feared to have drowned off the Libyan coast while trying to cross to Europe, the UN’s refugee agency said on Wednesday (20 April), but a muted response to the tragedy suggests empathy is dwindling across the continent.

UNHCR said the 41 survivors, 37 men, three women and a three-year-old child were rescued by merchant ships and taken to Kalamata, Greece on 16 April. The survivors included Somalis, Ethiopians, Egyptians and Sudanese.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

They told the UN agency that they had been part of a larger group of 100-200 people who left from Tobruk, Libya last week.

After sailing for several hours, the smugglers attempted to transfer them to a larger boat, already overcrowded with hundreds of people.

During the transfer, the larger boat capsized and sank. The survivors on the smaller boat drifted for days at sea, before being rescued.

If confirmed, this incident could be the deadliest disaster since a year ago, when over 800 people drowned on their way to Italy in the Mediterranean.

However, reaction in Europe has been muted compared with the shock caused by last year's tragedy, shedding light on how sympathy for the plight of migrants has evaporated.

Last April, news of the shipwreck prompted an emergency EU summit, where leaders tripled the financing for search and rescue missions on the Mediterranean Sea.

“The situation in the Mediterranean is a tragedy,” European leaders said in their conclusions last April.

So far, only Italian prime minster Matteo Renzi and a Maltese minister have spoken out about the latest disaster.

Renzi said on Wednesday that Italian rescuers were trying to recover the shipwreck and the bodies.

Renzi has been calling for European help in stemming the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean, asking for financial assistance for sub-Saharan Africa.

Carmelo Abela, Malta's home affairs minister, said in Luxembourg: "This tragedy is yet another horrific blemish on Europe’s collective conscience."

EU foreign and defence ministers earlier this week discussed a variety of measures to help Libya, from financial aid to a possible mission to improve the country’s police and criminal justice capacities, but did not commit to any specific measures.

Since the beginning of the year, 24,940 migrants arrived in Italy by sea, according to UN figures, on the route used mostly by African migrants.

It represents an increase of 4.7 percent compared with the same period last year, according to Italian interior ministry data.

The number of arrivals has been rising since March, as the weather gets warmer.

Over 150,000 migrants reached Italy by boat in 2015, the vast majority departing from Libya.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

EU asylum debate reopens old wounds

EU leaders discussed asylum reforms in an effort to reach a consensus by next June, but divisions remain wide as concept of 'solidarity' becomes ever more elusive.

Magazine

EU 'solidarity' on migration focuses on Africa

EU states appear to have found common ground in trying to prevent people with no right to international protection from ever leaving for Europe. The EU is ready to use any means necessary to convince 'origin-and-transit' countries to cooperate.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  2. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  3. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  4. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels
  5. ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision
  6. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  7. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  8. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises