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.

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