Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Macron and Italy's new PM meet as Europe faces migrant crisis

France ready to help Spain with migrant rescue ship Macron and Italy's new PM meet as Europe faces migrant crisis
Patty Aguilar | 15 June, 2018, 16:05

"The French act superior but they have pushed back more than 10,000 people at the borders with Italy".

It's after Italy refused to allow the Aquarius ship to dock with 629 migrants on board. Spain has offered to take it in and the ship is now on the dayslong voyage to Valencia.

This week, Italian and Maltese officials denied entry for the Aquarius, a ship carrying more than 600 Libyan migrants.

Another, much bigger row then erupted with France, which blasted the "cynicism and irresponsibility" of Italy's actions.

Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi summoned the ambassador to a morning meeting "following the statements made yesterday in Paris on the Aquarius affair", his ministry said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

The two leaders confirmed a lunch meeting for Friday to discuss "new initiatives" on immigration, a day after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced an "axis" with Germany and Austria to fight illegal migration.

The episode, coming a week after the installation of Italy's new anti-establishment government, has heightened tensions within the European Union over migration.

"We're doing a lot but it's true: Europe must do more and must do better to help Italy", she said.

Numerous migrants are fleeing persecution and war in countries such as Sudan, Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan.

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France also said it was willing to take in migrants from the Aquarius after they arrive in Spain if they "meet the criteria for asylum".

Italy escalated its quarrel with France over migration Wednesday, challenging the bordering country to take in more asylum-seekers and demanding an apology after the French president accused the new Italian government of irresponsible behavior for refusing entry to a rescue ship with hundreds of migrants aboard.

The number of migrants arriving in Italy began plummeting a year ago after the Italian government under the centre-left Democratic Party negotiated controversial deals with Libya that beefed up its capacity to better patrol its coasts and discouraged land-based smugglers.

The EU is deeply divided over asylum policy.

The Aquarius and two Italian ships that took on some of the 629 passengers are expected to arrive in Valencia on Saturday night, weather conditions permitting, said SOS Mediterranee co-founder Sophie Beau, whose charity operates the aid ship. "We need to maintain dialogue", a source close to Macron said as the president visited the western town of Rochefort.

Under the EU's asylum laws - now the subject of revision amid a major political dispute - migrants must apply for asylum in the country where they first enter Europe. Salvini's refusal drew heavy criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron.

The report, Nowhere but Out, describes how French police routinely stop unaccompanied children and put them on trains back to Italy after altering their paperwork to make them appear older, or to make it appear that they want to be sent back.

He was arrested after trying to evade police by jumping off the boat into the sea off the island's northwestern coast, where the vessel landed late Wednesday.

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