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Brussels, 8 May 2011

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, on the deteriorating situation of refugees in Libya

"I am continuously concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. The reports of men, women and children from sub-Saharan Africa being forced out of the country by the Ghaddafi régime are particularly worrying.

Thus the rescue of 500 refugees by the Italian Coast Guard from a sinking ship near the island of Lampedusa on Sunday, for which I would like to express my admiration to the Italian authorities, points once again to the need for urgent action.

The European Union must show solidarity towards the most exposed Member States and also towards North African countries that bear the highest burden of the conflict in Libya. We cannot forget that Tunisia and Egypt have received most of the 650,000 people who fled the violence in Libya in recent months.

The European Union needs concerted action to facilitate the relocation and resettlement of people in need of international protection from North Africa, and I welcome the commitment by some Member States to offer shelter to a number of refugees from the region. The Union stands ready to provide support, also financially.

The Commission is organising a ministerial conference on 12 May, with the participation of interior ministers from Member States, UNHCR, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), and the International Organisation for Migrations (IOM). This conference will specifically call for relocation and resettlement, and discuss and review the commitments and pledges by Member States."

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