Mi­grant cri­sis in Med is geno­cide: Italy front­line mayor

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Fail­ing to pro­vide asy­lum seek­ers with safe pas­sage to the EU while hun­dreds die at sea is tan­ta­mount to geno­cide, a mayor on the front­line of the cri­sis warned Thurs­day.

“We’re liv­ing a geno­cide, and in a few years we Euro­peans risk be­ing found re­spon­si­ble,” Palermo’s mayor Le­oluca Or­lando said in ref­er­ence to the 1,800 or so peo­ple who have died at­tempt­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean by boat this year.

Or­lando said Europe should make it eas­ier for asy­lum seek- ers to ap­ply for refugee sta­tus out­side the EU, af­ter which they could en­ter the bloc legally rather than hav­ing to place their fate in the hands of peo­ple traf­fick­ers.

“If Syr­i­ans, com­ing from a coun­try at war, have the im­me­di­ate right to refugee sta­tus, why stop them tak­ing a plane ticket from Is­tan­bul to Paris, for ex­am­ple, and oblige them to go via Libya and the Mediter­ranean sea?” he asked.

Or­lando, whose city in the north­west of Si­cily has had to deal with a fair num­ber of the over 60,000 peo­ple who have ar­rived in Italy so far this year, said many of the tales mi­grants have to tell were hair-rais­ing.

“The sto­ries told by sur­vivors who make it to Si­cily re­sem­ble the ac­counts told by sur­vivors of Dachau and Auschwitz (con­cen­tra­tion camps),” he said.

Or­lando was in Rome for a meet­ing be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi and the coun­try’s re­gional heads on the ques­tion of giv­ing shel­ter to mi­grants, af­ter ar­eas of the rich north in par­tic­u­lar said they re­fused to take in any more.

Renzi

called

for

“eth­i­cal and rea­son­able” so­lu­tions to the prob­lem, say­ing refugees must be cared for and eco­nomic mi­grants quickly ex­pelled — with­out ex­plain­ing how the coun­try would speed up its iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­cesses.

The talks were slammed as a waste of time by the pres­i­dent of the Lom­bardy re­gion, Roberto Ma­roni, who told his North­ern League anti- immigration party that “the chaos con­tin­ues.”

His coun­ter­part in the Veneto re­gion, Luca Zaia, called on his pre­fects “not to an­swer the phone any­more when the gov­ern­ment rings.”

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