Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach: European border security should be stepped up

Leo Varadkar urged zero-tolerance of human trafficking.

Ireland’s Taoiseach has called for border security to be stepped up to tackle the migrants dispute.

Leo Varadkar urged zero-tolerance of human trafficking.

The Irish Defence Forces LE Samuel Beckett patrol vessel was deployed on the EU’s Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean earlier this year.

Some rescue ships run by charities have recently been stranded for days after Italy closed its ports.

The Taoiseach told the Dail parliament in Dublin: “We need to step up border security because what is happening in parts of Africa is really terrible.

“People are travelling huge distances and traffickers put them into boats that are not seaworthy, knowing full well the European navies and others will come to the rescue.”

He added: “That is something that cannot be encouraged.

Nobody should encourage human trafficking Leo Varadkar

“Nobody should encourage human trafficking and the Libyan coastguard has a big job to do to deal with that.”

He said reception centres for migrants should be run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and warned there could be no equivocation over trafficking or its facilitation.

The Irish rescue effort is in support of the EU’s work and is part of a 27-nation mission operating mainly between Libya and Italy.

Italy’s new populist government closed ports to rescue ships operated by charities, calling on its EU partners to share the burden of looking after those saved off Libya’s coastline.

EU leaders will consider the migrant crisis at a Brussels summit on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said he would be raising issues surrounding reception centres during the European Council meeting.

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