Published: Lun, Juillet 03, 2017
Globale | By Boniface Saint-Yves

Grandi: Italy needs help with migrants

Grandi: Italy needs help with migrants

"What is happening in front of our eyes in Italy is an unfolding tragedy", said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. With 83,400 arrivals since January, a 19 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2016.

On Thursday, the European Union's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, promised more financial support for Italy, and urged member states to demonstrate greater solidarity.

Italy is struggling to host thousands of refugees, who have traveled through the Mediterranean to escape war, persecution or poverty in their home countries.

"And, on the basis of the decisions made by the UNHCR, we must ensure the former depart for Europe while economic migrants are voluntarily repatriated", he said. These agencies are accused of operating as a pull for migrants because they sail close to the Libyan coast.

Grandi stressed that Europe had to follow an "urgent distribution system" of refugees and should widen legal channels for the admission of asylum seekers.

It's not clear if Italy even could legally shut its ports to asylum-seekers.

"We risk reaching a point when we won't be able to authorize any landing any longer, a dramatic situation", he said. Faced with a rising number of people attempting the crossing, as well as a rising number of people losing their lives in the dangerous waters, the Italian Coast Guard and several humanitarian organizations in recent months have stepped up search-and-rescue missions off the North African coast.

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That influx has left some Italian politicians threatening to close some ports to rescue ships, forcing other Mediterranean countries to take in more migrants.

The interior ministers of France, Germany and Italy were scheduled to get together in Paris on Sunday to discuss possible assistance for Rome.

Many of the migrants need health care and support, with a large percentage of them non-accompanied children and victims of sexual violence, says the United Nations.

Meanwhile, not a single migrant has arrived in Malta by boat this year, after the number dropped by a massive 80 per cent in 2015 to just 106. "Unless you help us, the danger is that the populists will win the next general election in Italy", Gentiloni said, according to Italy's La Stampa newspaper.

The Auberge de Castille was asked to react to the Italian government's announcement that it was considering closing its ports to vessels bearing rescued migrants if it was not given help in carrying the burden.

"We think rescuing human life is paramount", said Joel Millman, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.

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