Coping with migration

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A senior UN official attacked European countries yesterday for failing to work together to cope with migration, and urged them to tackle it with more spending on aid and education. UN Special Representative for Migration Peter Sutherland also had harsh words for the United States, accusing it of undermining global moves to address migration by snubbing a global forum on the issue due to open in Brussels today. Sutherland said countries like Spain and Malta could not deal alone with the thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa that have been heading across the Mediterranean to Europe’s southern shores, saying it was a problem for Europe as a whole. «It is absurd not to have a common European policy. To think that one can champion national sovereignty on migration is insanity because it is ostrich-like,» Sutherland, a former World Trade Organization chief and ex-European commissioner, told Reuters in an interview. «To simply pretend that the Pyrenees (mountain range) becomes the line of defense is ludicrous,» he said, adding many of those who landed in Spain or elsewhere in Southern Europe saw their final goal as one of the rich countries of the north. Malta and others have accused their Northern European Union partners of leaving them to address the problem alone, pointing to the fact that the new EU border agency Frontex has suffered a persistent lack of resources from boats to helicopters. African migration has triggered rows within the bloc, with some northern states infuriated by a Spanish move in 2005 to grant amnesty to some 600,000 illegal migrants. «Europe has to get its act together,» said Sutherland. «There is a price to be paid here. Nor can you dump it all on the Spaniards.» Europe and the West should spend more on development in poor countries to alleviate the misery which prompts many migrants to leave their homes, while also paying for education and cultural adaptation of migrants taken in by host countries, he said. ‘Obscure’ US absence Sutherland was in Brussels on the eve of the first «Global Forum on Migration and Development,» an effort launched by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to prompt greater international cooperation in addressing migration. The two-day forum will hear from officials drawn from some 145 countries who hope to produce ideas for non-binding initiatives and policy guidelines to better channel migration. A glaring absence will be that of the United States, which will be represented by a single observer and which has argued that migration is best tackled by existing regional forums. Sutherland acknowledged it was a «big worry» that the US absence could undermine the impact of the initiative and said he failed to understand the US reluctance to take part.

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