The wave of refugees fleeing the North African conflict continues to create tension in the European Union as member states discuss how to respond to what Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has called a ‘human tsunami’. Italy is threatening to issue permanent residency permits to the thousands of refugees arriving on Italian shores, which would allow them to travel freely though Europe and make their way to other nations.
As the politicians try to figure out what to do with the refugees, more and more risk their lives trying to get across. Hundreds tragically perish in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe.
In Thailand, a plan was announced to return 100,000 refugees to Burma. The UN is skeptical that the situation in Burma is safe enough for the refugees to return.
A spokeswoman for the UN agency in Bangkok, Kitty McKinsey, said it was too soon for the refugees to return home.
“We have been working very well with the Thai government and we do understand that they don’t want the refugees to stay here forever,” she told AFP.
“But the solution is not forcing people to go back to a country that is still dangerous. What we would really like to see is that the returns are done in safety and dignity, and they absolutely have to be voluntary,” she said.