Italy pleads with the EU for aid to help authorities cope with migrants
Italy pleaded for more help Thursday to rescue migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean, and demanded a “clear answer” from the European Union about where the refugees should be sent.
In the aftermath of the latest migrant tragedy that saw some 400 people drown on Sunday off Libya, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Italy was shouldering nearly all of the burden for patrol and rescue.
“Ninety percent of the cost of the patrol and sea rescue operations are falling on our shoulders, and we have not had an adequate response from the EU,” he told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, adding that the EU was only spending three million euros a month on its Operation Triton sea patrols.
Following Sunday’s tragedy, rights groups lashed out at the bloc for scrapping Italy’s more proactive Mare Nostrum rescue operations.
Survivors told charity workers in Italy that the overcrowded vessel overturned with when refugees on board surged to see their rescuers approach.
Amnesty International said much of the responsibility for the crisis rested with Brussels.
“In demanding an end
to the Mare Nostrum rescue operation that saved 170,000 lives, and replacing it will a surveillance mission, Triton, the EU has turned its back on its responsibilities and clearly threatens thousands of lives,” said Jean-Frangois Dubost, Amnesty’s displaced persons director in Paris.
Gentiloni said that in order to stem the tide, the EU also had to tackle why the migrants were trying to make the perilous journey to Europe.
Italy believes the only way the flow can be slowed is to tackle the chaos caused by the civil war in Libya, from whose unpoliced ports most of the migrant boats are coming.