Italy's president calls for common Europe action on refugees

4th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano urged Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi to end military action against his own people, and called on Europe to move towards a common strategy on refugees.

"Violence against the Libyan people cannot be tolerated. Colonel Kadhafi must stop any military action against his own people," he told the UN Human Rights Council.

Amid the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the number of asylum seekers heading for European shores has increased, prompting Napolitano to call on the EU to come up with a common strategy in dealing with asylum seekers and refugees.

"The recent, sad events in the Mediterranean demonstrate that the EU has to complete the unfinished job of setting up a common space of freedom, security and justice, by, inter alia, defining rules on asylum seekers and refugees protection," Napolitano said.

"The more effective management of the EU border canot be left to individual members states, it is not the border of one country, it is the border of Europe," he added.

Thousands of Tunisians have arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa in recent weeks, after a popular uprising in the North African state that drove out president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The president noted that Italy has seen a massive rise of 250 percent in migrant resident numbers over the past decade..

Migrants now make up about seven percent of the population and is "a positive force in our society," he said.

On Friday, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that Italy was ready to provide nearly one billion euros ($1.4 billion) in loans and aid to southern Mediterranean.

He said the plan should also enforce security, adding: "We cannot risk the Mediterranean becoming a place of transit of enormous flows of desperate people on the move because of crises and instability."

© 2011 AFP

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