Monday, 18 June, 2018

Italy’s rejection of migrant ship ‘shameful’ - United Nations envoy

Italy summons French envoy as migration row escalates UN Demands Brussels Ignore 'Resistance' to Mass Migration, Share Unlimited Arrivals Across Bloc
Sammy Stanley | 14 June, 2018, 15:57

The row centres on the charity ship Aquarius, which both Italy and Malta refused to let dock at their ports.

Grandi, an Italian national himself, pointed out that Italy had taken the brunt of the massive numbers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya towards Europe in recent years.

"As a European I feel ashamed that there is a boat roaming around the sea", UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told reporters in Geneva.

While acknowledging that the controversial European Union quota system - which would have seen illegal immigrants arriving to the bloc forced on unwilling nations - was "a failure", the UN figure insisted: "Unless Europe goes back to this notion of sharing the burden, we will not get out of this situation".

Many states have fallen short of their pledge, made in 2015, to take some asylum seekers from Italy and Greece - the first port of call for most migrants given their long Mediterranean coastlines - and share the cost of their care. "Italy is right to say that this has to be shared more widely".

France tried to take a more conciliatory tone on Wednesday.

"Such statements are undermining relations between Italy and France", Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement.

As well as summoning France's ambassador on Wednesday, Italy's finance minister Giovanni Tria cancelled a meeting with his counterpart in Paris and its interior minister said Italy had "nothing to learn about generosity, voluntarism, welcoming, and solidarity from anyone".

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France's European Affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau on Thursday defended France's record on taking in migrants following criticism of Macron's initial silence on the plight of the Aquarius.

Macron told ministers in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday the Italian government had acted cynically and irresponsibly in its refusal to welcome the Aquarius, according to French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

A government source said Conte still did not see the right "conditions" for a Friday meeting with Macron.

"For me, the question of how we deal with the migration question is something of a litmus test for the future and the unity of Europe, and the interests of every country must be considered", she said.

Kurz said Europe needed an "axis of the willing in the fight against illegal migration".

Refugees have continued to arrive as politicians trade blame.

The Spanish port of Valencia's spokesperson told Sputnik on Wednesday that the rescue vessel, as well as Italian Coast Guard and naval ships, carrying over 600 migrants, could enter the Spanish port of Valencia late on Saturday. German aid group Sea-Watch said the migrants were picked up after their rubber dinghy sank and the Navy also had recovered the bodies of 12 people.

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