Italy gets Brussels backing for European Union peers to accept migrants off boats

ANDREAS SOLARO  AFP  Getty Images

ANDREAS SOLARO AFP Getty Images

Over 73,300 migrants have landed in Italy since January, a 14 percent increase from the same period previous year.

Italian news agency ANSA said Italy was proposing a ban on non-Italian-flagged rescue ships disembarking migrants in Italian ports, though not those participating in the EU's Frontex rescue operation.

Meeting with the European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos, Ambassador Massari today June 28 stressed that Italy was at the limits of its capacity to deal with the current migration crises in the mediterranean.

This would endanger the work of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and possibly prevent non-Italian merchant vessels carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean from bringing people to Italian ports. Italy has become the main point of arrival for all of those rescued off the coast of Libya.

The record for migrants rescued on a single day stands at 7,000, plucked from their unseaworthy vessels on 29 August 2016. The total number of migrants reaching Europe by sea so far this year is less than half that counted in the same period of 2016, thanks to a deal between the European Union and Turkey which blocked a once-busy route to Greece, but the number coming to Italy has risen.

In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's worldwide broadcaster, noted that Italy's ruling, centre-left Democratic party has come under pressure over the migrant issue.

According to The Guardian, both Germany and France have said Italy, after the closure of the Turkey route, has been left alone to fend with the refugee crisis for too long.

But Avramopoulos's office said any change in Italian policy regarding aid groups should be discussed ahead of time to give them time to prepare.

"We are now facing an biblical exodus", said Paolo Romani, head of ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's opposition Forza Italia party in the upper house of Parliament.

Countries such as Greece and Italy want more support, but some eastern European nations are refusing to take their share of migrants from frontline states under a controversial relocation scheme agreed by the EU two years ago.

In a sign of the deepening chaos in the north African country, a five-vehicle United Nations convoy was ambushed Wednesday 30 kilometers from the Libyan capital Tripoli. Local media reported the ambush was staged in an attempt to gain the release of three drug-runners arrested by a vigilante force in Tripoli.

Latest News