Irregular migration across the Mediterranean tops agenda of EU interior ministers meeting

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By Enyichukwu Enemanna

The growing number of migrants arriving illegally in Europe through the Mediterranean Sea will become one of the main topics of discussion as interior ministers from the European Commission hold talks on Friday.

The Commission presented a 20-point action plan on Monday which aims to tackle illegal migration across the Mediterranean Sea.

At a press conference on Monday, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said one of the aims of the EU plan was to step up cooperation with third countries, including actions to prevent departures from North Africa.

According to the commission, the majority of migrants leave from Libya and Tunisia and come mainly from Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh.

The EU says it plans to have spent 580 million euros ($594 million) between 2021 and 2023 to support North African countries and help foster economic growth and jobs in the region .

This year alone, more than 90,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in the European Union via the central Mediterranean route, for example across the sea from North Africa to Italy or Malta, an increase of 50% compared to 2021.

The issue came to a head earlier this month as Paris and Rome clashed over France’s acceptance of a boat carrying 234 rescued migrants that Italy had turned away.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi called the proposal a “solid start”, welcoming the emphasis on greater cooperation with countries of origin and transit and greater coordination of rescue activities. at sea.

Johansson said there needed to be greater EU coordination on search and rescue, including between coastal and flag states, and stressed that providing assistance to those found in distress at sea was an obligation. legal.

She also highlighted an EU agreement reached in June on the voluntary relocation of migrants and financial contributions from EU countries that are not on the front line.

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