The ‘human avalanche’ of African immigrants into Europe over recent months has forced the first ministerial meeting of the seven Mediterranean countries.
Foreign Affairs ministers from Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta met yesterday in the Spanish port of Alicante.
They demanded that the European Union increases financial support to the Mediterranean member states, which are bearing the brunt of the massive influx of African migrants.
What Spanish police have referred to as a ‘human avalanche’, has forced immigration to the top of Mediterranean countries’ political agendas.
The Spanish Foreign Affairs minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, insisted that the national efforts to stop the migrants trying to reach Europe are ‘not sufficient’.
The seven ministers said, in a joint statement: “Solidarity with southern member states affected by the massive and disorderly arrival of migration flows, despite their substantial efforts to control their external borders, should include sufficient and effective financial support from the EU.”
The statement added that migratory pressure from across the Mediterranean, ‘is far from diminishing, it is increasing’.
The Italian Foreign Affairs minister, Federica Mogherini, said: “Today we reiterated that our dealings with our neighbours to the east – and most notably the crisis in Ukraine – must not overshadow the priority status given to the Mediterranean, and to problems relating to migration flows.”
She added: “Immigration is a burning issue in a number of countries, and our partners realise this, not just those in the Mediterranean, but our partners throughout the EU.”
Immigration charities have estimated that between 17,000 and 20,000 migrants have died at sea while trying to reach European soil in the last 20 years.