Italy calls on European countries ports to welcome migrants

July 2, 2017 10:30 pm

A Guardia Civil officers helps migrants to disembark from the Spanish Guardia Civil Rio Segura Patrol Ship with 1,216 migrants onboard, who were rescued in the Mediterranean sea on June 29, 2017, in the port of Salerno. (Photo by AFP)

’s interior minister called Sunday on other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships ahead of talks with France and Germany on tackling the migrant emergency.
Marco Minniti, who meets his counterparts in Paris later Sunday to prepare for talks in Tallinn this week, said in an interview with Il Messaggero daily that “we are under enormous pressure”.
With arrivals in Italy up nearly 19 percent compared to the same period last year, Rome has threatened to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats or insist funding be cut to EU countries which fail to help with the crisis.
“There are NGO ships, Sophia and Frontex boats, Italian coast guard vessels” saving migrants in the Mediterranean, he said, referring to the aid boats as well as vessels deployed under EU border security missions.
“They are sailing under the flags of various European countries. If the only ports where refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question,” he said.
“I am a Europhile and I would be proud if even one vessel, instead of arriving in Italy, went to another European port. It would not resolve Italy’s problem, but it would be an extraordinary signal” of support, he said.

Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti attends a contact group meeting to discuss migration in the central Mediterranean, in Rome on March 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Over 83,000 people rescued while attempting the perilous crossing from Libya have been brought to Italy so far this year, according to the UN, while more than 2,160 have died trying, the International Organization for Migration says.
Italy’s Red Cross has warned the situation in the country’s overcrowded reception centers is becoming critical.
Interior Minister Minniti was set to meet counterparts Gerard Collomb of France, Thomas de Maiziere of Germany and European Union Commissioner for Refugees Dimitris Avramopoulos at 1800 GMT in the French capital.
Minniti said Rome would be pushing for a way to shift the asylum application process from Italy to Libya, and safely bring to those who win the right to protection.
“We have to distinguish before they set off (across the Mediterranean) between those who have a right to humanitarian protection and those who don’t.
“And, on the basis of the decisions made by the UNHCR, we must ensure the former depart for Europe while economic migrants are voluntarily repatriated” to their countries of origin, he said.
Unsourced Italian media reports said Rome was likely to call for a European code of conduct to be drawn up for the privately-run aid boats, with the Corriere della Sera saying vessels that did not comply could be “seized”.
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