United Nations to present plan for Mediterranean migrant centers for EU

28 June, 2018, 00:33 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • Italian transport minister Danilo Toninelli criticised Malta on his Facebook page

With such statement the French leader was speaking on the eve of the convening of a summit on immigration in Brussels on Sunday between the leaders of the European Union on the issue of migration, which divides Europe.

Hundreds of people fleeing conflict and persecution at home are caught in the midst of a worsening row over how to deal with the influx against a backdrop of mass drownings in the Mediterranean in recent years.

Italy's new far-right interior minister brought the issue at the forefront of the debate by refusing the migrant rescue ship Aquarius the right to dock in Italy and saying he will not accept more migrants in his country, which is their main landing point.

Disagreement over how to reform European migration policy was rife among leaders in the days leading up to the summit.

Two other ships carrying hundreds of migrants - the German NGO ship Lifeline and Danish container ship Alexander Maersk - are now in the Mediterranean awaiting instructions on where they will be allowed to dock.

Italy defiantly declared Saturday that its ports were closed to foreign-flagged rescue ships as German charity vessel Lifeline lay off the coast of Malta in limbo with more than 230 migrants aboard.

But the German operators of the Lifeline hit out at Salvini for referring to its passengers as a consignment of "human flesh".

Merkel, having long ago moved her CDU party to the political centre, now faces "a putsch from the right", said a leader of the far-left Die Linke party, Bernd Riexinger, watching the spectacle from the sidelines.

"That is why it is also about bilateral or trilateral agreements for mutual benefit", she added.


"Macron's statements on the fact that there is no migration crisis in Italy show that he is completely out of touch with reality".

Before the meeting had even begun, divisions were on display, as Italy and Malta traded insults over which nation was responsible for a boat of 234 migrants adrift in worldwide waters.

"We want to have real controls at the external borders to make sure we can safeguard the free travel zone of Schengen", said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Merkel, however, has acknowledged that "no solution will be reached" on the overall migration issue at either summit.

Mrs Le Pen added French President Emmanuel Macron and Mrs Merkel, his top EU ally, had "isolated themselves on the European scene" due to their soft approach on illegal immigration. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which form the so-called Visegrad Group, instead held their own meeting on June 21. Currently, migrants are processed in the state in which they arrive-something that has recently placed a lopsided burden on countries like Italy, where the migrant crisis has not abated as much as it has elsewhere.

Mr Seehofer has vowed to use his law-enforcement powers to send back certain asylum seekers at Germany's borders if Ms Merkel doesn't reach agreements with European Union partners this month.

An asylum seeker from the Horn of Africa stands in a tented camp set up by the Baobad aid group, on the outskirts of Rome, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Under current rules, an European Union country is responsible for processing the asylum claims of all new arrivals, which has put enormous pressure on Mediterranean states, especially Italy and Greece.

The issue has raised tensions in Germany, where Merkel is trying to placate a coalition ally opposed to taking in more migrants. Germany's new hard-line interior minister, Horst Seehofer, has given her until the end of June to curb new migrant arrivals.

Migrants mostly stay in arrival countries like Greece and Italy or the wealthy ones where they try to start a new life.

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