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North African refugees

More border controls for EU?

Published torsdag 5 maj 2011 kl 12.37
European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström

The flow of refugees from North Africa is causing problems for Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner from Sweden. She’s responsible for issues regarding immigration and asylum in the EU.

At the same time, Sweden has become the first EU nation to receive quota refugees fleeing from Libya.

The conflict between European Union members France and Italy has revealed that the Schengen agreement allowing unrestricted travel among many EU countries has serious shortcomings, Malmström says.

She agrees that the union is being forced to increase border guards.

With the flood of refugees from Libya and Tunisia hitting Italy first, the Italians have been handing out temporary travel documents, waving the refugees on to a France desperately trying to block the flow and sending refugees back to Italy.

In charge of immigrant and refugee questions, the Swede has been appealing in vain to EU members to share the burden of North African refugees and immigrants fleeing northward to avoid the bloodshed of the Arab spring in Northern Africa - and those seeking new lives and jobs in a poverty stricken region.

Speaking with Swedish Television News, the Swedish commissioner says Brussels in not yet ready to come up with any details and that a few more weeks of discussion are needed first, but that the EU has to have stronger controls over its outer and inner borders.

So far, the only exceptions from the Schengen agreement opening up the inner borders of the EU have been made to restrict soccer football hooligans eager to storm foreign cities to fight with rival fans.

The Swedish commissioner doesn't feel that the 25,000 refuges from Tunisia now trying to pass through Italy are a good reason for making an exception. But she does want the European Commission to have more of a say over immigration policy - and the member states less.

Meanwhile, Sweden has agreed to accept 200 quota refugees from Libya - where some 6,000 Somalian, Eritrean, Sudanese and other refugees have been trapped near Libya's borders trying to escape the civil warfare there.

Swedish migration Minister Tobias Billström has visited the region and speaking with Swedish Radio news, says that Sweden is accepting mostly those who are in real need of protection - women and children.

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