Europe finally acts
After a particularly cruel April, in which an estimated 1,700 people perished trying to cross the Mediterranean, the European Commission unveiled its migration strategy proposal on 13 May. The plan takes an immediate and long-term view, including stepping up search and rescue operations, targeting criminal smuggling networks and relocating arrivals to other EU member states based on the size of their economies. Under the terms of the plan, the EU will accept around 20,000 refugees during the course of the next two years and resettle them throughout Europe, although Britain, Ireland and Denmark can opt out of the programme. The announcement was greeted with relief by southern European countries, particularly Italy, which have complained that the burden of managing the influx of migrants, which numbered some 10,000 in April alone, is not being evenly spread. Meanwhile, African leaders are clamouring for a solution to the instability in Libya, which used to be a destination for sub-saharan migrants but is now a launching pad for smugglers’ boats.