Cracks emerged Friday in Europe’s hard-fought summit deal on refugee crisis, as EU President Donald Tusk warned there was no guarantee it would work and France and Austria ruled themselves out of hosting refugee centres.
The agreement, hammered out during marathon overnight talks, also swiftly came under fire from the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) charity, which said it aimed to turn away even the most vulnerable people from Europe’s shores.
Underscoring the human dimension of the crisis, the bodies of three babies were recovered and around 100 people were missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Libya Friday.
AgreementItaly’s new populist government, which has sparked fresh political tensions in Europe by refusing to let a series of refugee rescue ships dock in recent weeks, had initially blocked the conclusions of the Brussels summit.
But after nine hours of bitter negotiations, 28 EU leaders agreed to consider setting up “disembarkation platforms” outside the bloc, most likely in north Africa, in a bid to discourage refugees boarding EU-bound smuggler boats.
The deal also includes plans to set up secure centres on European soil to process new arrivals, to sort refugees in need of protection out from economic refugees who should be sent back.
The central European states of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which have all taken a tough anti-refugee stance, hailed the agreement as a victory.
But Tusk warned that difficult work lay ahead to make the agreement work in practice. — Agencies ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY GENEVA
Member states of the UN migration agency yesterday rejected President Donald Trump’s nominee for director general, repudiating historic American control of the organisation.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had been led by an American throughout the agency’s 67-year history with one exception from 1961 to 1969.
But Trump’s pick Ken Isaacs, an executive with the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse who faced serious charges of anti-Muslim bigotry, proved to be an untenable choice.
Isaacs published numerous tweets describing Islam as an inherently violent religion, including one after the 2016 attack in the French city of Nice that said “Islam is not peaceful”.
Portuguese Socialist and former EU chief Antonio Vitorino won the election. — Agencies