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Brussels, 3 October 2013
Tragic accident outside Lampedusa: Statement by European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström
I am deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa. I would like to express, on behalf of the European Commission, my sincerest condolences to the families of the many people who lost their lives at sea.
Europe has to step up its effort to prevent these tragedies and show solidarity both with migrants and with countries that are experiencing increasing migratory flows.
We have to become better at identifying and rescuing vessels at risk. We also need to intensify our efforts to fight criminal networks exploiting human despair so that they cannot continue to put people's lives at risk in small, overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels.
The European Commission has developed a new tool, EUROSUR, which will become operational as of December this year, to improve the situation. EUROSUR will help Member States to better track, identify and rescue small vessels at sea thanks to better coordination between national authorities, appropriate channels of communication and improved surveillance technology. We expect all Member States to support the adoption and implementation of Eurosur quickly and to use it at national level as soon as possible.
We also need to continue to address this phenomenon through cooperation and dialogue with countries of origin and transit and open new channels for legal migration. The Commission has been engaging with several countries of North-Africa to agree on a concerted manner of better managing migration flows and promoting mobility.
The EU recently agreed on a new Mobility Partnership with Morocco. The Commission hopes that similar agreements can be reached with other countries in the region, in particular Tunisia.
While responding to these attempts to reach the EU, we should not forget that there are still many people in need of international protection. I therefore call upon Member States to engage more in the resettlement of people in need of international protection. This would demonstrate an increased and much needed commitment to solidarity and the sharing of responsibility and would help to reduce the number of people putting their lives at risk in the hopes of reaching European shores.
Finally, I wish to express my support to the Italian authorities for the enormous effort, including the apprehension of smugglers, they have undertaken over the last few months which have seen a vast increase in the influx of irregular migrants at their external borders.