‘No more excuses’, EU warns as another migrant boat in distress

April 20, 2015 3:56 pm
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Local residents and rescue workers help a migrant woman after a boat carrying migrants sank off the island of Rhodes, southeastern Greece, on April 20, 2015/AFP
Local residents and rescue workers help a migrant woman after a boat carrying migrants sank off the island of Rhodes, southeastern Greece, on April 20, 2015/AFP
LUXEMBOURG, Apr 20 – EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini told European nations Monday they had “no more excuses” not to act on the migrant crisis as another boat with 300 people onboard issued a distress call from the Mediterranean.

A day after a fishing boat crammed with migrants capsized off Libya with the loss of hundreds of lives, EU foreign and interior ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss the flood of people desperately trying to reach Europe.

More than 700 people are feared dead in Sunday’s disaster, with some survivors suggesting nearly 1,000 could have been on board.

As the search for victims continued, the International Organization for Migration said it had received a distress call from another boat in the Mediterranean.

“The caller said that there are over 300 people on his boat and it is already sinking (and) he has already reported fatalities, 20 at least,” the IOM’s Federico Soda wrote in an email.

His colleague Flavio Di Giacomo urged caution, however.

“For now, this is simply a call for help… It’s too soon to talk about a shipwreck,” he told RaiNews24.

Soda said the IOM had given the Italian coast guard the coordinates for the boat and two other stricken vessels, but that rescuers were still busy responding to Sunday’s disaster.

Arriving at the talks in Luxembourg, Mogherini said the 28-nation EU had “no more excuses” now not to come up with a common response to the migrant tide.

“We need immediate action from the EU and the member states,” she said.

EU president Donald Tusk said he would host an emergency summit on the crisis on Thursday.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, whose country is among those bearing the brunt of the flood of migrants, said Rome was studying the possibility of mounting “targeted interventions” against the Libya-based people smugglers behind the crossings.

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