Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Italy threatens to deny entry to foreign ships to force migration action

Italy threatens to deny entry to foreign ships to force migration action Italy threatens to deny entry to foreign ships to force migration action
Ellis Copeland | 29 June, 2017, 19:37

Italy will continue saving lives at sea but it is "no longer sustainable" for all those rescued to be brought here and the possible block would include foreign vessels run by humanitarian NGOs, by the EU's Frontex border agency, and by the EU NavforMed mission against migrant traffickers, ANSA reported.

Brussels said it was ready to give Italy fresh financial support to deal with the crisis but said Rome had to give due warning of such a drastic step.

"But what we're also saying is that any change in policy should first be discussed with other member states, and also properly communicated to the NGOs who are running these boats so that they have time to prepare".

According to Massari, the country could deny the landing of boats that are "not flying Italian flags and are not part of European Union missions".

The dramatic move comes after almost 11,000 asylum-seekers and economic migrants, mainly from African nations, arrived on Italian shores in a four-day period from war-wracked Libya.

"A total of 5,000 migrants were saved (in the Mediterranean) yesterday while 8,500 are now heading for Italy aboard rescue ships", said Romani.

Maurizio Massari, Italy's ambassador to the EU, launched an official complaint Wednesday during a meeting with EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

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Several aid ships chartered by privately-funded organisations from France or Germany are taking part in efforts to rescue migrants from the Mediterranean. Many are fleeing war, poverty or persecution.

Migrants wait to disembark from the Spanish ship "Rio Segura" in the harbor of Salerno, Italy, Thursday, June 29, 2017. The IOM reported that 1,562 died at sea.

"This is putting our country under pressure but we will respect our humanitarian and legal commitments".

If Italy goes ahead with its threat, EU Frontex operations would not be up for discussion since they are governed by worldwide law. "We tried to resuscitate him, but sadly there was nothing we could do", a doctor told Italy's RAI public broadcaster.

As thousands of migrants take advantage of calm seas to sail from Libya to Europe, Italy has threatened to close its ports to the influx, claiming that its reception centres are full.

Avramopoulos responded via Twitter that he had discussed with the Italian envoy "our support after increasing numbers of arrivals in Italy".

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