The deaths of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe amount to an indictment of leadership in Africa, South African President Jacob Zuma said.
“In recent times, we have all witnessed painful and shameful images of our African brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and children dying during unsafe passage across the Mediterranean Sea,” Zuma said Saturday in Johannesburg. “This is an indictment to all of us and calls on us to realize that although we have done so much to improve the living standards of our people, there is a need to double our efforts.”
At least 700 people died when a boat carrying migrants sank off Libya in April. Migration to Europe has surged amid Syria’s civil war, the dissolution of Libya and turmoil elsewhere in northern Africa. More than 54,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year, most of them from Eritrea, Somalia and a variety of sub-Saharan and West African countries, Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, said June 9.
Zuma spoke as leaders gather in South Africa for a summit of the 54-nation African Union and meetings of heads of state. An outbreak of attacks on foreigners in South Africa two months ago targeted people from countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia, causing seven deaths. Zuma said his nation welcomes people from elsewhere in Africa.
“Contrary to misplaced beliefs, South Africans’ blood remains warmly African,” the president said.