9 October 2013
Following the shipwreck tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmström visited the island together with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. During the visit, they met with local authorities dealing with the reception of migrants, spoke to volunteer organisations as well as survivors from the shipwreck.
Already when arriving to the airport, the full extent of the tragedy was apparent.
"An immense sorrow in front of 280 coffins in Lampedusa. This is not worthy of Europe", Commissioner Malmström said on Twitter.
Malmström and Barroso, together with Prime Minister Letta and Interior Minister Alfano, also discussed measures to avoid future disasters and how the resources of the European Union can be strengthened in order to save lives on the Mediterranean. In a blog post after the visit, Malmström wrote:
"Perhaps this can be the turning point towards another kind of migration policy, with a focus on cooperation and more open paths to Europe?"
"We need more legal ways to come to Europe, for example through the resettlement of refugees from Syria in cooperation with the United Nations. Far too few EU Member States are accepting resettled refugees today. All 28 countries should make an effort! Still, the reason for the shipwreck disaster is that it is so difficult to enter the European Union legally. Therefore, we should seriously consider other options to make it safer to come to Europe for those who flee their home countries. Humanitarian visas could be a solution in this regard."
This week, Commissioner Malmström, who is responsible for issues relating to migration and asylum in the European Commission, also met with EU Home Affairs Ministers in the Council. The Lampedusa shipwreck, and how more countries can contribute to rescue efforts in the Mediterranean, was discussed.
Read the full blog post here. Cecilia Malmström also issued a statement on the day of the tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa, and proposed at this week's Council meeting to deploy an extensive search and rescue operation from Cyprus to Spain. Photos and video clips from the visit to Lampedusa are available.