Italy threat­ens to close ports to NGO mi­grant res­cue ships

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

ROME | Italy threat­ened Wed­nes­day to close its ports to aid groups res­cu­ing mi­grants off Libya’s coast as it strug­gles to cope with the high­est rate of res­cues this year. Italy’s am­bas­sador to the EU, Mau­r­izio Mas­sari, raised the is­sue dur­ing a meet­ing with EU mi­gra­tion com­mis­sioner Dim­itris Avramopou­los as a half-dozen dif­fer­ent ships off­loaded some of the more than 10,000 mi­grants res­cued in re­cent days.

“Italy is right that the sit­u­a­tion is un­ten­able along the Cen­tral Mediter­ranean route,” Mr. Avramopou­los said in a state­ment, adding that other EU mem­bers con­curred and that the bloc was ready to in­crease fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to help Italy man­age the flows.

Euro­pean-based hu­man­i­tar­ian res­cue ships have flooded the wa­ters off Libya’s coast in the past year to pick up mi­grants, though some of those groups have also been ac­cused by Italian pros­e­cu­tors of al­leged col­lu­sion with Libyan-based smug­glers.

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