By: V4 Agency
In order to ease the pressure of migration, Italy has requested the EU’s assistance and that its member states accept any newcomers voluntarily. Italy also wants the EU to finance the North African states’ border protection efforts, in a bid to stop migration.
Due to a sudden surge in the number of irregular migrants and the ensuing chaos on the island of Lampedusa, Interior Minister Silvia Lamorgese asked representatives of member states at the EU meeting in Lisbon for assisstance. Referencing the Malta Declaration, Italy requested the voluntary distribution of migrants to alleviate the pressure it’s under. Austria said “no” to accepting newcomers, but voiced support for the intervention, as well as for starting talks with African countries to reduce the number of departures to Europe as much as possible.
Regarding the distribution of illegal immigrants, Karoline Edtstadler, Austria’s European Affairs Minister said “this approach does not lead to a resolution of the problem, and it would be better to help African countries directly, in order to stop migration.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi is planning to table a proposal at the European Council meeting on 24-25 May, which would provide funding for the North African states to cover their border protection expenses.
The Malta Declaration sets out a practically automatic transfer mechanism of migrants rescued at sea and taken to Italy and Malta, as they are to be redistributed between the countries party to the agreement. The countries who joined the pact earlier but refuse to take in migrants are to suffer sanctions.
“While more than 15,000 people made landfall in 2020, the interior ministry boasts that it has managed to relocate 878 people under the agreement,” Matteo Salvini noted.
“We need clear rules on maritime rescue and control in the Mediterranean and we need to take action to protect human rights, “the mayor of Lampedusa said. “We need mechanisms to protect Lampedusa and its community. We are situated not only on the border of Italy but also on the EU’s external border, so Brussels must also take responsibility.”
“Libya’s new unity government has been unable to regain control over the coastal areas,” an unnamed source told the daily il Giornale newspaper. “Thanks to coast guard activities, several thousand immigrants have been turned back to Libya, but the militia groups on the mainland, engaged in human smuggling, are very strong, and in fact, want to send as many boats, and as soon as possible, to Italy. With summer approaching, human smugglers expect to make huge profits.”
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, argues that “the sea blockade is not inhumane. It’s those who support human trafficking that are inhumane, not those who want to stop the departure of ships. Closing the border is the only way to stop boats from reaching our shores and prevent deaths at sea.”
The Italian government has decided to send Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on an official visit to Tunisia on 20 May to discuss the prevention of human and arms smuggling as a priority issue.