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Europe 'must share immigration'

Europe 'must share immigration'
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Responsibility for the influx of migrants from North Africa should be shared by all of Europe, not just the Mediterranean countries.

That is the recommendation from the 47-member Council of Europe.

The uprisings in a number of Arab countries have given the issue greater urgency.

So far this year over 34,000 immigrants have arrived in Italy. Just over 1,000 have arrived in Malta. But the vast majority – 750,000 – are displaced across northern Africa.

The President of the Migration Committee of the Council of Europe, British Member of Parliament Christopher Chope, is calling for more responsibility.

“There must be more cooperation between the countries within the Council of Europe, and particularly we have had evidence that there is not

enough cooperation between, for example, Greece and Turkey; that should be improved. And we think that all of the Council of Europe countries should deal with issues much more quickly than they are at the moment, because ‘justice delayed is just justice denied’.”

Crossing the Mediterranean can be a very dangerous business. The Council says 600 migrants drowned in May alone. Since the beginning of this year 1,400 have been reported missing.

A Spanish member of the Council of Europe’s parliament, Arcadio Diaz, is calling on countries to remember their duty to help rescue people in trouble at sea.

“No one has done enough under the circumstances, the only innocent people are those who’ve died. The others have to take their share of responsibility and they can’t escape that duty through legal arguments. FRONTEX, the EU organisation responsible for external borders, has to live up to its name. I’m not blaming the crew of any of the boats they’ve been chartering, but it is a service that requires resources and skills that can be deployed effectively and efficiently.”

The Council of Europe also notes that in 2010 Europe legally accepted 5,824 refugees. The US received nearly 55,000 – 10 times as many.