The European Union must take a collective stand to tackle migrant trafficking at its source in African countries, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Wednesday (April 22).
Renzi said the EU should have a more visible role in sub-Saharan countries where migrants originate. His passionate address followed a moment of silence in the Italian parliament to honour the hundreds of people who lost their lives at sea fleeing hunger, division and war.
“When someone is ready to risk their own life, when someone puts their life at risk because they have to flee a situation where people are being beheaded around them, discouraging these people from fleeing is not done with a declaration of principals, it is done through the offices of the UN High Representative of Refugees in Niger and Sudan. It is done by directly intervening in these places….”
Renzi, speaking one day ahead of an extraordinary summit of EU leaders on the crisis, said he was very optimistic that the bloc could “change tack” on migration issues.
Up to 900 people were feared dead after their boat sank on its way from Libya last weekend, leading to calls for more concerted action to stop the flow of people fleeing Africa.
The EU on Monday agreed to a 10-point plan to prevent more tragedies, including reinforcing its patrolling operations in the Mediterranean by giving them more money and equipment.
Under the plan, the bloc would also make a systematic effort to capture and destroy vessels used by people smugglers.