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NEWS | Wednesday, 28 October 2009

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Malta joins Italy in condemning Sudan atrocities

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tonio Borg yesterday intervened on freedom of religion in Sudan in a condemnation of religious violence against Christian communities.
His statement joins a series of previous appeals by United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon. Borg also praised an Italian initiative to identify proposals to enhance EU action in protecting and promote freedom of religion and belief.
Thousands of civilians have fled after fresh attacks by the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Sudan’s remote western Equatoria region. It has also been reported that the rebel group abducted ten girls from a local church, ransacked and torched homes and stole food. They also struck in Bereamburu village, burning a local church and health centre and raiding medical supplies.
Up to 5,000 internally displaced people have fled from Ezo and surrounding areas. The UN estimates that hundreds of thousands of people have fled homes and villages in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo because of the LRA since mid-2008.
Addressing the EU council of foreign affairs ministers, Borg appealed for the strengthening of cooperation with transit countries on the issue of illegal immigration.
Transit countries are the last exit point for illegal immigrants prior to their entrance into the EU.
Borg asked his European counterparts to demonstrate more solidarity with countries experiencing high influxes of immigration. “In the light of the current discussions between Libya and the European Commission, it is necessary that assistance is provided to Libya for the supervision and control of its frontiers,” Borg said.
He insisted that it was likewise important to understand Libya’s own demands from the EU and said that search and rescue operations must be undertaken within the context of existing international laws.
On the repatriation of illegal immigrants, Borg said that the challenge lies not in the logistical planning of flights, but rather on the lack of documentation necessary for the repatriation process to be completed. “The European Commission should strive to reach agreements with countries of origin for the recognition of documentation which is produced by the European Union in the absence of the basic documentation,” Borg said.
The monthly meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, is convening in Luxembourg today to discuss, amongst other issues, the upcoming Copenhagen summit on climate change to be held in December and discussions held with third countries in an effort for the summit to reach an ambitious commitment.


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