[Stop-traffic] UK, Italy act on people traffickers

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] UK, Italy act on people traffickers
From: Neeley Main (celndine@dhp.com)
Date: Sun Feb 04 2001 - 18:39:26 EST

UK, Italy act on people traffickers
February 4, 2001
Web posted at: 1356 GMT

LONDON, England -- Britain and Italy have agreed urgent new measures to curb
the smuggling of illegal immigrants into western Europe through the Balkans.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato
said their countries would deploy extra police and immigration officers to
Bosnia to help authorities control the borders.

They also pledged to push for the swift introduction of tough European-wide
penalties for human trafficking.

In a joint article written for the British Sunday newspaper, The Observer,
they declared war on the trade in immigrants via the notorious "Sarajevo

But in the article Blair, for the first time, gave his backing to proposals
to open up a route of "legal migration" for skilled workers into Europe -- a
departure from nearly 30 years of a "zero migration" policy.

The UN estimates the Sarajevo route through Bosnia now accounts for up to 10
percent of the illegal immigration into the EU, the article says, and at
least 50,000 illegal immigrants a year enter western Europe through the
western Balkans.

Britain and Italy say they will push the European Union Police Chiefs' Task
Force to step up operations to work against human traffickers and will urge
EU members to make fuller use of shared intelligence to fight

In addition, would-be migrants who wanted to return home would receive
funding for "voluntary repatriation."

"It is essential that we show both traffickers and carriers transporting
illegal immigrants that we mean business," they wrote.

People traffickers target Italy and Britain
The prime ministers said all European Union countries had to cope with
illegal immigration, but Italy and Britain had their own particular
problems, with Italy being particularly vulnerable because of its long
Adriatic coast.

Last June, the bodies of 58 Chinese immigrants were found suffocated in a
truck at the British port of Dover.

The proposals put forward by Blair and Amato follow the publication of a
discussion document on the future of migration into Europe by the EC
Commission last year.

The document called for managed immigration under a U.S.-style "Green Card"
system backed by a tougher enforcement regime on vulnerable borders.

Official figures recently released showed the UK is the number one target
for asylum seekers in Europe.

The prime ministers write: "Every day we hear of the horrors illegal
immigrants endure at the hands of the people traffickers.

"The catalogue of death in recent times speaks for itself. In all that we
do, we will honour our obligation to provide protection to those fleeing

Reuters contributed to this report.

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