- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MADRID (Agence France-Presse) — Members of the European Union are abandoning their obligations toward refugees in trying to combat illegal immigration, the human rights organization Amnesty International said Tuesday in a letter to the current British EU presidency.

Amnesty said “shooting and killing people trying to get into European territory and abandoning them in the middle of the desert without food or water is a direct result of the pressure exerted by EU states to reinforce fortress Europe.”

EU interior and justice ministers were to convene in Luxembourg yesterday to address immigration.

Amnesty called for “a radical revision of refugee policy,” accusing EU members of “abandoning their obligation to protect refugees in trying to combat illegal immigration, as shown by the tragic events in Spain’s North African enclaves.”

Amnesty said EU immigration policy “is badly oriented, and certain countries such as Spain could be in the process of violating their own international engagements, and towards the EU.”

The organization termed it “shameful” that EU states are “loading the weight of refugee protection onto other countries, which are perhaps not equipped to receive an ever greater number of displaced persons.”

Also Tuesday, Deborah Elizondo, the United Nations’ official for refugees in Spain, said up to 150 of the hundreds of immigrants who made it to Melilla could be granted asylum, and that applying for asylum is “a right that must be respected.”

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