Published: Fri, June 30, 2017
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Asylum seeker crisis: Italy threatens to shut ports

Asylum seeker crisis: Italy threatens to shut ports

"Then there is the problem of economic refugees and this is not a new issue - 80% of the migrants that arrive in Italy and economic migrants".

With over 12,000 migrants landing in Italy in the last two days, Rome has warned Brussels that foreign ships may be stopped from docking in Italian ports unless the situation improves. The figure represents a 13 percent increase over the same period in 2016 and does not include the roughly 10,000 migrants saved in the Mediterranean Sea in recent days who are still in transit towards Italian shores.

In a meeting Wednesday, Massari informed Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU's commissioner for migration, that his government is now considering denying landing rights to any ships that aren't flying the Italian flag or are not part of the European Union interdiction and rescue mission in the Mediterranean. Other countries, such as Poland, have refused to host asylum seekers and lighten Italy's load.

Italian news agency ANSA said Italy was proposing a ban on non-Italian-flagged rescue ships disembarking migrants in Italian ports, though not those participating in the EU's Frontex rescue operation.

Italy is on the receiving end of a "biblical exodus" of boat migrants from Africa, an Italian lawmaker said on Tuesday, urging the government to halt the influx, even by refusing migrants entry at national ports. All of those rescued off the coast of Libya are brought to Italy, often by private charities. In municipal elections this month the coalition lost ground to center-right parties such as Matteo Salvini's Northern League, which has called for a "stop to the invasion".

Italy's centre-left government was showing a "worrying" inability to manage a situation that was "becoming more dramatic each day", he said.

But Avramopoulos's office said any change in Italian policy regarding aid groups should be discussed ahead of time to give them time to prepare.

"Now is the moment to deliver, and we will hold them to this", the commissioner said.

Italy is the main point of arrival for mostly African migrants to European shores this year, and more boats are sent out nearly daily.

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