NEWS

EU leaders to pledge rescue for migrants, but no fix for problem

European Union leaders will effectively reverse a cutback in rescue operations the Mediterranean on Thursday to try to prevent record numbers of people drowning as they try to flee war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

But an emergency EU summit in Brussels, called after up to 900 went down on a single boat on Sunday, will do little else beyond laying out options, including attacks on smugglers and holding camps for migrants, on which the 28 states are divided.

> a senior diplomat said, noting the gulf in living standards north and south of the Mediterranean. >

There were just 28 survivors from Sunday’s disaster, which appeared to be the worst ever among migrants fleeing by sea to Europe from north Africa.

A poignant interfaith funeral was held in Malta for 24 victims, the only ones whose bodies have been recovered so far from a ship in which many are believed to have been locked in below deck.

Imam Mohammed El Sadi said what had happened should raise awareness of the migrants’ plight while Bishop Mario Grech called for action motivated by love, rather than just the law.

> he said.

A draft EU statement seen by Reuters and expected to be issued around 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) after four hours of talks lists 13 proposals to deal with the pressure of hundreds of thousands of people trying to reach a continent where anti-immigrant political parties are on the rise.

But only the first point, >, which involves > financing and boosting the naval presence, is likely to translate into action soon.

EARLIER MISSION CLOSED Italy shut down a mission that saved the lives of more than 100,000 migrants last year because other EU countries refused to pay for it. It was replaced with a smaller EU scheme whose main focus is to patrol the bloc’s borders, after countries argued that saving migrants encouraged more to come.

EU officials say that once leaders go round the table making pledges of help, the total increase announced may be greater.

But practical, legal and political headaches posed by military action in Libya, setting up > abroad or even redistributing refugees around EU states are far from solved.

> the diplomat said, comparing it to EU efforts to present a programme to counter terrorism after January’s Islamist attack on Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo. >WOEFULLY INADEQUATE>Operation Triton>pull factor>woefully inadequate and shameful>surgical strikes>destroy the business model>confront>rapid return