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“The European Union likes to boast that it is a force for good. But in the past ten days as many as 1,200 boat people have drowned in the waters of the Mediterranean”, writes The Economist, according to which “an unknown number were refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia fleeing war or persecution. They perished in part because the EU’s policy on asylum is a moral and political failure.”

Although Europe cannot solve the problems that stemmed this exodus nor shelter all of those who are taking part in it, it has to intervene. Nonetheless, the magazine notes, –

The EU is putting only a third as much money and less than a tenth of the manpower into maritime rescue as it did last year. Several countries […] argued that a high chance of being rescued acts as a “pull” factor which only encourages more migrants. In effect, the EU was proposing to stand back and watch one lot of innocent people drown so as to deter another from following them into boats. That logic was wrong as well as morally repugnant.

“If the EU is to live up to its values, it must act on many fronts at once”, adds The Economist. The magazine suggests setting up “camps to process asylum applications to Europe on the south shore of the Med” where asylum applications would be processed in a “fast, fair and efficient” way —

The economic migrants who are rejected need to be sent back home. And member states must sign up to their share of refugees – which should be well within the scope of 500m wealthy EU citizens. […] Europe likes to think it is a model for how nation states can work together to make the world a better place. At the moment, the boat people put that idea to shame.