The latest influx of migrants brings the total who’ve arrived in Italy since January to 76,000. Some experts estimate that 220,000 could wind up in Italy by the end of 2017.
A European Council official acknowledges that the ongoing flow of mostly economic migrants presents a structural challenge of urgent and serious concern. To avoid a major humanitarian crisis, the EU must find a way to restore control.
Italy agrees that the EU must restore control. Italy says that it’s unable to cope with this year’s expected flood of refugees, and is demanding help from the European Union, or else it will close all its ports to ships carrying migrants. Since the rescue operations do not take place in Italian waters, Italy is under no obligation under international law to take the refugees in, according to some experts.”
The NGOs operating rescue boats understand the pressure put on Italy but ask that the Italians keep their ports open.
However, we also believe that closing the ports of safety to people seeking refuge from war, violence and poverty cannot be the solution. We would like to stress again that NGOs are not the cause, nor the solution to this humanitarian crisis. Without our presence at sea, even more people would die.”
A major issue now is Italy’s request that the migrants be shifted to other EU countries to relieve its burden. In 2015, the EU agreed that 160,000 asylum seekers who be sent from Greece and Italy to other member nations in the name of burden-sharing. To date, only 22,500 have been moved.
Another consideration is Italian politics, with the ruling center-left Democratic Party losing a recent local election due to public discontent over rising immigration.
March in Rome against nationality laws for second-generation migrants:
Image: Renegade Tribune