EU Proposes Migrant Rescue Mission
The move by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem was prompted by the Lampedusa migrant boat tragedy, which killed more than 230 people.
She will present the plan to EU ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
The alleged skipper of the Lampedusa boat, a Tunisian man, is being held in Sicily, suspected of manslaughter.
The Commission’s plan calls for an operation by the EU’s Frontex border agency ‘from Cyprus to Spain’, Ms Malmstroem’s spokesman told the BBC.
The search and rescue operation would ‘help better tracking, identification and rescue of boats, especially migrants’ boats’, spokesman Michele Cercone said.
‘It could help prevent tragedies like the one in Lampedusa,’ he said.
Divers have recovered dozens more bodies from a boat carrying African migrants that sank off the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday. The victims were mostly from Eritrea and Somalia.
Khaled Bensalam, 35, is in custody in Agrigento, Sicily. Investigators suspect him of being responsible for the sinking and he could face multiple counts of manslaughter, though no charges have been laid yet, the BBC’s Rome office was told.
Some witnesses say Mr Bensalam had a role in the fire on board and others say they waited for hours in the water before being picked up.
In Luxembourg Ms Malmstroem will seek political support for the planned EU mission and the necessary resources, because to implement it, ‘Frontex will need additional resources’.
‘We will see how they [member states] react’, Mr Cercone added.
Frontex is currently helping Italy to intercept migrant boats, but the two EU operations in the southern Mediterranean have limited resources – a total of four ships, two helicopters and two planes.
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