Italy threatens closure of ports to migrant boats

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Migrant rescue: arriving at the port in Lampedusa, Italy

IN the wake of the recent surge in migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean, the Italian government is considering closing its ports to rescue boats.

With 11,000 arriving in Italy in just five days, that country’s EU ambassador, Maurizio Massari, is expected to raise the issue with the European Commission, seeking to change the existing asylum procedure.

The concern in Italy following the surge has reignited the debate about whether rescue boats lying in wait around the Libyan coast – which will mostly bring those rescued to Italian ports – inspires increased smuggling activity.

Questions about whether port closure to migrants would be legal given the responsibility of the coastguard to rescue those struggling at sea have been raised suggesting the Italian government is trying to force further EU action to solve the wider problem.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean Spain is quickly becoming one of the most popular routes for those seeking entry into Europe, highlighting the need for a real solution.

The ongoing refugee crisis requires the European Union to take urgent measures to ease the situation in the long term by improving lives in Africa. Angela Merkel met with African leaders earlier this month for talks about tackling poverty in Africa by encouraging private investment for businesses which would in return yield jobs on the continent.

The European Commission has promised more emergency funding for Italy to deal with migrants and urged the EU28 to increase financial assistance to Africa.

With EU nations like Poland and Hungary refusing to host asylum seekers, Italy is left with vast numbers with little hope of wider dispersion. Pope Francis controversially condemned the state of some Europe centres holding asylum seekers as “concentration camps” and thanked those who are willing to be more welcoming.  

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