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Brussels, 30 June 2014
Commissioner Malmström deplores the recent loss of life in the Mediterranean and calls for more EU action
I deplore the recent loss of life in the Mediterranean and I express all my sympathy to the victims and their families. I would also like to thank the Italian authorities for their impressive efforts that led to the rescue of around 5000 people in the last days. This new death toll clearly illustrates that smugglers and criminals have no respect for human lives and we must urgently increase our efforts to fight their deadly activities. The Commission is cooperating very closely with the Italian presidency in this regard, and is preparing an EU plan against the smuggling of migrants, involving all relevant actors, in particular Europol and Frontex, and focusing on priority actions in cooperation with key third countries. The aim is to fight the criminal networks where they have their operational basis and work jointly to dismantle them. Last Thursday I had a bilateral meeting with Minister Alfano and I reaffirmed that the European Commission stands ready to help Italy in its efforts to manage the increasing migratory and asylum pressure. We are currently making 4 million EUR available in the framework of the Emergency Assistance to Italy, and we are looking at ways to contribute even more, within the available resources, to the financing of the Italian efforts to host migrants and refugees on their territory. I also reiterate my call to Members States to help provide places to resettle refugees in Europe, directly from refugee camps in third countries, in the framework of the programmes being carried out by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This would avoid that these vulnerable people put their lives in the hands of these merchants of death, to try and reach the EU shores and get the protection they are entitled to.