Frequent shipwrecks in Mediterranean spur criticism towards EU

More than 1,000 people migrating from North Africa to Europe became victims of a series of shipwrecks this week, sparking criticism towards the incapability of the European Union (EU) in preventing such tragedies, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

A boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of Italy on May 26. Another boat filled with hundreds of refugees capsized near the island of Crete on June 3.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 2,500 people have died so far this year, compared with 1,800 in the same period of last year.

The paper noted that for many in Europe and North Africa, “the question is why no systematic European Union policy or temporary solution has been put in place to prevent further deaths at sea”.

Ayoub Gassim, a spokesman for the Libyan navy, on Friday said that EU leaders were “doing nothing but counting bodies”.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Libya and Syria, noted that the EU has neither vessels nor surveillance equipment to support its border control agency known as “Frontex”, relying instead on individual EU member states to provide both.

“We are dealing with short-termism, and basically putting patches on leaks,” he said, “They talk about keeping the numbers down, as if the numbers are not human beings like you and me.”

An Italian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Italy has been pressing its European partners for more than a year to take greater action, such as deploying more ships and other resources, to address the growing number of deaths in the Mediterranean. (Xinhua)