Asylum Secretary and AZG patch things up after Twitter incident

The State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken has had a good chat with members of the humanitarian aid organisation AZG (Artsen Zonder Grenzen, Doctors without Borders). He had accused AZG of people-trafficking because they rescued African refugees off the Libyan coast, but things have been patched up now, both parties claim.

Francken made the accusation on Twitter, causing quite a stir. He said AZG should stay away from the Libyan coast because they are only making things worse. He argued that by rescuing helpless refugees on boats, they stimulate the stream of refugees from Africa to the European continent.

Francken was reprimanded by Prime Minister Louis Michel in Parliament yesterday: "I disapprove of these tweets. And I advise Mr Francken to turn his thumb 7 times in future before sending this kind of Twitter messages."

This morning, Francken told reporters that his tweet should have been less outspoken and more subtle. He did not apologise, but confirmed that he has great respect for the work they are doing. "My father - a doctor, red. - was also not very happy with the message." Francken took back his words as if AZG would be human traffickers.

Bart Janssens of AZG told reporters he was relatively satisfied with the outcome, "although differences remain in our points of view."