Reuters news agency reports that Italy on Wednesday appealed to the European Union for help in taking in African migrants, even raising the possibility of closing its ports to humanitarian rescue ships to pressure EU partners. An Italian government source told Reuters, “The idea of blocking humanitarian ships flying foreign flags from returning to Italian ports has been discussed. Italy has reached saturation point.” He added Rome had planned for 200,000 beds for asylum-seekers and those were almost all taken. According to the report, Italy has brought in over half a million boat migrants since 2014, and a record 181,000 came last year. Arrivals this year are up about 14 percent over the same period last year to 75,000.
Over the weekend voters punished Italy’s ruling Democratic Party in local elections, opting instead for center-right rivals led by the anti-immigrant Northern League and four-time former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who wants Italy to take a tougher stance on migration. EU member states over the past two years have taken little action to move asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece, however, the bloc’s 28 leaders agreed last week the two southern states should get more help to manage arrivals. An EU official said the European Commission will give more emergency funding to Italy and wants EU states to put up more money to assist African countries hoping that better conditions in those countries will keep people from leaving.
Reuters report found here.