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Dutch News
Dutch to help police southern EU borders 2/16/2007
AMSTERDAM – The Netherlands is considering contributing manpower to the new EU border control agency, Frontex. It is also offering equipment for the coast guard.

Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin said this on Thursday after an EU meeting to discuss illegal immigration in general, and the problem in southern Europe in particular. The Dutch contribution is aimed at helping stop the expected influx of tens of thousands of African immigrants this spring.

The pledges from the Netherlands and other EU countries will cover approximately half of what is needed, says a spokesperson for European Commissioner for Justice Franco Frattini.

Most of the pledges of manpower and equipment come from Finland, Spain, Italy and Germany. Frattini is calling on EU members to contribute more.

The Netherlands has been helping guard the EU’s southern borders for some time. It sent several Marechaussee to help coast guard efforts in the south at the end of 2006, for instance.

Some 31,000 illegal aliens from Africa made their way to the Canary Islands last year, six times as many as in 2005. The same situation is causing problems for Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The southern European countries have been asking for more assistance for years. Most other EU members are reluctant to get involved. Integration Minister Rita Verdonk once insinuated that Spain had brought the problem upon itself by granting a general amnesty to a hundred thousand illegal aliens.

Hirsch Ballin said in January that the situation was not that clear cut: “Spain did indeed grant a great number of aliens amnesty, but the problems with the illegal influx of immigrants started long before that.”

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