EU should follow Aussie example on boat people: PM
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose government introduced tough measures to stop asylum- seeker boats, said Tuesday the European Union should follow suit, describing it as the only way to end deaths at sea.
His comments came after a fishing vessel crammed with migrants capsized off Libya at the weekend with the loss of 800 lives, and as EU foreign and interior ministers met in Luxembourg to discuss ways to stem the flood of people trying to reach Europe.
Australia’s conservative government introduced a militaryled operation after coming into power in September 2013 to turn back boats carrying asylum- seekers before they reach the continent.
“We have got hundreds, maybe thousands of people drowning in the attempts to get from Africa to Europe,” Abbott reporters.
The “only way you can stop the deaths is in fact to stop the boats,” he added.
While Abbott’s controversial policy has proved successful, with the nation going nearly 18 months with virtually no asylum- seeker boat arrivals and no reported deaths at sea, human rights advocates say it violates Australia’s international obligations.
Before the policy was introduced, boats were arriving almost daily with hundreds of people drowning en route.
“We must resolve to stop this terrible problem and the only way you can stop the deaths is to stop the people- smuggling trade,” Abbott said.
“That’s why it is so urgent that the countries of Europe adopt very strong policies that will end the people- smuggling trade across the Mediterranean.”