Med migrant crisis needs rescue response: UN refugee chief

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES- The migration crisis in the Mediterranean -- in which 800 people are feared to have died Sunday alone -- is a tragedy that needs a coordinated rescue response, the top UN official for refugees said Wednesday.
"Our ability to save lives at sea has to be guaranteed, because the current situation is a tremendous tragedy," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said at a briefing at the Organization of American States in Washington.

Guterres said that while Italy had organized a successful rescue operation at sea, called Mare Nostrum, it was put on hold amid concerns it could be encouraging more migrants to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe.
"Today we know that the fact that there is no effective rescue operation in place, has not reduced but rather increased the number of people who try to cross the Mediterranean," he said.
"There are people traffickers. And we have to take a very tough line with these people who violate human rights," Guterres added.
EU leaders gathering in Brussels on Thursday will consider launching a military operation against human traffickers in Libya, held responsible for the deaths of thousands of migrants this year in the Mediterranean, a draft statement showed.
In the draft statement seen by AFP on Wednesday, leaders would commit to "undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy vessels before they are used by traffickers."
A diplomatic source said the EU's 28 member states were widely mobilized to approve the statement's wording, reflecting a growing willingness to launch an operation to fight the traffickers.

Thursday, April 23rd 2015

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