EU Leaders to Pledge Rescue for Migrants, But No Fix for Problem

Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

(Reuters) – European Union leaders will effectively reverse a cutback in rescue operations the Mediterranean on Thursday to try to prevent record numbers of people drowning as they try to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

But an emergency EU summit in Brussels, called after up to 900 went down on a single boat on Sunday, will do little else beyond laying out options, including attacks on smugglers and holding camps for migrants, on which the 28 states are divided.

“With the best will in the world, these issues are not solvable,” a senior diplomat said, noting the gulf in living standards north and south of the Mediterranean. “We can only limit the damage.”

There were just 28 survivors from Sunday’s disaster, which appeared to be the worst ever among migrants fleeing by sea to Europe from north Africa.

A poignant interfaith funeral was held in Malta for 24 victims, the only ones whose bodies have been recovered so far from a ship in which many are believed to have been locked in below deck.

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