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Lampedusa protests target EU on migrant shipwreck anniversary

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Lampedusa protests target EU on migrant shipwreck anniversary


Special ceremonies have taken place on the Italian island of Lampedusa to mark the first anniversary of a shipwreck that claimed the lives of 366 African migrants.

Mostly Eritrean and Somali refugees, they were drowned within sight of the island on October 3 last year. The disaster came as a wake-up call to European politicians.

On Friday protesters vented their anger at a perceived lack of action on the part of the EU to deal with the crisis.

European Parliament Speaker Martin Schultz was heckled as he addressed the ceremony.

“We must face the immigrant problem as soon as possible,” he was quoted as saying.

But one protester was heard to shout at the dignitaries: “this is a joke… you are the killers.”

Italy has repeatedly called for the European Union to contribute more to Rome’s search-and-rescue mission, which costs the Navy nine million euros a month.

“Mare Nostrum will not be abandoned until the EU comes up with something just as good or better,” Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said during a question-and-answer event in Ferrara, Italy, which was broadcast live on television.

“Mare Nostrum” is due to be replaced by an Italian-led EU programme, Frontex Plus, following an agreement with the European Commission in August.

But individual EU countries have been slow to pledge money or vessels.

Italy continues to bear the burden. Earlier this week it intercepted more than 2,000 migrants in two days.

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