Europe shows respect to boat people: Milne

The Greens say Australia's cruel treatment of boat people contrasts with the Europeans' respect towards the 800 migrants who died at sea off Libya.

The latest Mediterranean migrant boat disaster has cast a light on Australia's cruel treatment of asylum seekers, Greens Leader Christine Milne says.

The United Nations refugee agency has confirmed 800 migrants died when their boat capsized off Libya on Sunday, as rescue crews continue to recover bodies.

The response by Sicilian authorities shows that Europeans respect the dignity of these boat people, Senator Milne said.

"The reporting talks about the tragedy as people drown ... they don't talk about `illegals' ... and they don't talk about punishing refugees," she told reporters in Hobart.

"They talk about offering help and assistance."

Source: AAP