Erdogan raps EU for leaving migrants ‘to their deaths’

Updated 22 April 2015

Erdogan raps EU for leaving migrants ‘to their deaths’

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accused EU states of leaving migrants “to their deaths” after a succession of deadly disasters that have cost hundreds of lives.
His comments came as European governments, under mounting pressure to act decisively on the growing Mediterranean migrant crisis, were to hold an emergency summit on the issue Thursday.
“If these people seek refuge in European countries after somehow fleeing their home countries then how can an approach of letting the boats sink and leaving them to their deaths be adopted,” Erdogan said in televised comments.
“I condemn the West’s approach. There cannot be such an approach,” he said at a news conference alongside Iraqi President Fuad Masum.
He said that Turkey was hosting almost two million refugees from the Syria crisis “because it considers this a humanitarian responsibility.”
Turkey has repeatedly accused the EU and the West of not doing its fair share to help Syrians and other migrants, leaving Ankara with a multibillion dollar financial burden on the issue.
EU governments have already agreed to double the resources available to a maritime border patrol mission, but that has been attacked as too little, too late by refugee and rights groups.
The crisis has come to a head after 800 people are feared to have died in appalling circumstances off the coast of Libya on Sunday.
Related report on Page 11


At least 13 people drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya

Updated 39 min 8 sec ago

At least 13 people drown in migrant shipwreck off Libya

  • The boat had set off from the town of Zliten, east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli
  • The Libyan Coast Guard said that it had ordered the rescue, and that search teams were scouring the area

CAIRO: Over a dozen migrants trying to reach Europe drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when their small dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya, the United Nations reported Friday, the latest shipwreck to underscore the deadly risks facing those who flee the war-afflicted North African country.
Libyan fishermen spotted the sinking boat late Thursday, said the International Organization for Migration, and managed to pull 22 people from the water, including those from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia and Ghana.
But at least 13 of the other passengers were missing and presumed drowned. Three dead bodies were found floating in the water, including one Syrian man and woman. The boat had set off from the town of Zliten, east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, late on Wednesday.
The Libyan Coast Guard said that it had ordered the rescue, and that search teams were scouring the area for more victims.
“So many boats are leaving these days, but autumn is a very difficult season,” said Commodore Masoud Abdal Samad. “When it gets windy, it’s deadly. It changes in an instant.”
Following the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants hoping to get to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families into ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route. At least 20,000 people have died in those waters since 2014, according to the UN
Those who survived Friday’s disaster were taken to the Tripoli port, where they received medical care for their burns, a common consequence of leaked engine fuel mixing with saltwater, said Safa Msehli, an IOM spokeswoman.
Libyan authorities shepherded the survivors to the Zliten detention center, run by the Tripoli-based government’s Interior Ministry. Migrants rescued at sea and returned to Libya routinely land in detention centers notorious for torture, extortion and abuse. Amnesty International revealed in a report Thursday that thousands of migrants have been forcibly disappeared from unofficial militia-run detention centers.
The shipwreck, the second to be recorded by the UN in as many weeks, “signals the need now more than ever for state-led search and rescue capacity to be redeployed and the need to support NGO vessels operating in a vacuum,” said Msehli.
Since 2017, European countries, particularly Italy, have delegated most search-and-rescue responsibility to the Libyan Coast Guard, which intercepts migrant boats before they can reach European waters. Activists have lamented that European authorities are increasingly blocking the work of nongovernmental rescue organizations that patrol the Mediterranean and seek to disembark at European ports.