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Maghreb-European summit to set up task force on immigration

A joint conference attended by EU and North Africa leaders agreed to establish a task force to prevent illegal immigration to EU countries

AFP , Saturday 6 Oct 2012
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North African and European leaders will set up an immigration task force following the Arab Spring uprisings, which have seen a sharp rise in people making risky boat crossings to Europe.

"The democratic urgency is immigration," Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said at a summit in Malta.

Members agreed to set up "a task force to prevent these migrations and help people in order to avoid tragedies at sea".

"There are Tunisian, Libyan children, sometimes very young kids who die in shipwrecks. Each shipwreck is a catastrophe... and cannot be accepted," he said.

Marzouki's comments came at the close of a two-day "Five Plus Five" summit in Malta between five European countries (France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain) and five Maghreb states (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Tunisia).

He called on the summit's members to "pool efforts and resources," but said it "must not be a security operation, but a humanitarian one.

"We cannot accept that hundreds of people are dying in the Mediterranean."

Each year, thousands of illegal migrants, mostly from Africa, attempt the crossing of the Mediterranean in often overcrowded and unseaworthy vessels in a bid to reach the European Union.

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