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EU Relieved As Boat-people Numbers Ease; Worried Over Mid-east; Ready To Aid Russia …

  • August 13th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

migration-eu-boatpeople.JPGIn announcements of the week, an annual review has found unauthorised migration sharply down; a little further afield, the European Council has reiterated concern over tension around the borders of Israel, and has stepped up with aid for Russia in its crisis over the forest fires.


The European Commission says that slightly more than 31 000 people were stopped at EU borders in 2009 – a sharp drop compared with 2008.

A report using data from the European  fingerprint database,  shows that member countries had still received 236 000 requests for asylum, although  several were doubled-up — nearly a quarter of the total were from people putting in  multiple applications with different authorities.

The years 2007-09 saw rises in numbers making their way across external borders of the EU especially in Southern and South-east Europe; in 2008, in just one sector, 35000 people were estimated to have attempted the crossing from North Africa, mainly from Libya, mainly in small boats.

See EUAustralia Online: “Immigration, new sea strategy”, 1.4.10; “Lampedusa – detention centre …”, 24.1.09; “Migration concerns for EU”, 31.10.08; “Blitz on illegal immigration”, 17.5.07.
Europe’s version of “stop-the-boats” rhetoric currently being exercised in Australia, saw increased efforts – not always very successful –  at coordinating and strengthening border patrols, and also negotiations with countries of origin of intending migrants, and transit countries.


The European High Representative, Catherine Ashton, has  expressed “serious concern” over the recent exchange of fire across the Israeli-Lebanese border, in which four people were killed.

She said the EU would support an immediate inquiry into the events that have left four people dead.


russia-forest_fires.jpgThe High Representative has also been in contact with Russian  authorities beset with the prolonged heatwave conditions, bringing severe losses to agriculture, huge outbreaks of fire in forest lands and peat bogs, and extreme air pollution from smoke hanging over central Russia, creating a health crisis for people in Moscow.

Public health officials said this week the heavily polluted air was especially threatening to vulnerable people  – the old, the very young, and pregnant women – with some 700 dying in the city over one week, double the average.

Catherine Ashton said the Russian government had not taken up an offer of aid from  Brussels, but seven European Union  member countries had sent expert help, and support on then ground with the fire-fighting.


Council of the European Union, Brussels, “EU reiterates offer of support to Russia, 11.8.10., (12.8.10).

Council of the European Union, Brussels, “EU urges Israel and Lebanon to exercise the utmost restraint”, 4.8.10.

European Commission, “Number of people caught trying to enter the EU illegally drops by 50%”, 3.8.10., (12.8.10).

European Commission, Brussels, “Report from the Commission … Annual report to the European Parliament and the Council on the activities of the EUROVAC Central Unit in 2009”., (12.8.10).