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Thursday 19 April 2018

Merkel: We must do more to prevent migrants perishing on our doorsteps

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Axel Schmidt
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Credit: Axel Schmidt

Andreas Rinke

Europe needs to step up efforts to prevent migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean, says German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We owe it to ourselves to do more," she said at an event with non-governmental organisations in Berlin.

"Europe must first step up its fight against human traffickers and, then work to overcome the root causes of migration."

"Thirdly - and this is the most important - we will do everything to prevent further victims from perishing in the most agonising way on our doorstep in the Mediterranean."

Read More: EU facing immigration crisis as up to 950 die at sea

Adding that Libya's lawlessness made it hard to pursue reform in the North African state from which many migrants set out to reach Europe.

As many as 900 migrants may have died off the coast of Libya at the weekend when a large boat capsized, Malta's premier said on Monday, by far the highest death toll in modern times among migrants trafficked in rickety vessels across the Mediterranean.

Read More: EU ministers in crisis talks over Mediterranean migrant deaths

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Merkel's deputy, said that the European Union needed to consider a "safer alternative" for immigrants from Africa.

"In Europe we need new rules for orderly and legally protected immigration from Africa including for the North African states bordering the Mediterranean," he said in remarks released by Bild newspaper ahead of publication on Tuesday.

Read More: Muslim migrants threw nine Christian refugees into sea on way to Italy

One possibility could be legal and restricted immigration "through specific quotas", Gabriel told the paper.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday promised to do more to stop migrant deaths in the Mediterranean by increasing rescue efforts and catching the traffickers.

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