Italy gets Brussels backing for European Union peers to accept migrants off boats
- Author: Santos West Jun 30, 2017,
Jun 30, 2017, 0:27
"We can't go on like this", a source told AFP after media reports that Maurizio Massari, Italy's ambassador to the European Union (EU), handed a letter to the bloc warning the country was considering closing its doors to boats of migrants.
Rome's EU ambassador, Maurizio Massari, met EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and told him that "the situation we are facing is serious and Europe can not turn its back", an Italian government source said.
In just the past week, over 10,000 migrants arrived in Italy on foreign vessels belonging to worldwide aid groups like Doctors Without Borders.
Due to the recent onslaught in migrants in Italy, Italian government officials stated Wednesday that the Italian government might start preventing NGO ships from bringing migrants to Italy. That would affect mostly European-based humanitarian rescue ships, which have flooded the waters off Libya's coast in the past year to pick up migrants.
Among the NGOs rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean is Doctors without Borders (MSF). At the current rate, and with months of good sailing weather ahead, the number of migrants is on track to exceed the 200,000 who landed in Italy in 2016.
Avramopoulos said, "Italy is right that the situation is untenable", adding that the country's management of the crisis was "exemplary".
Other EU nations have closed their borders to migrants, hoping to block them from moving north. Poland and Hungary have refused to host some asylum seekers to help ease the burden on Italy and Greece, another front line country.
Italy's ruling, center-left Democratic party has come under pressure over the migrant issue.
Avramopoulos responded via Twitter that he had discussed with the Italian envoy "our support after increasing numbers of arrivals in Italy".
The populist Five Star Movement has also called for a halt to new migrant arrivals in Rome.
"Now is the moment to deliver, and we will hold them to this", the commissioner said. Several U.N. employees were held for a while, then released.