• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Migrant crisis
Italy: we'll hurt Europe over migrant crisis
Migrants dry their clothes on rocks as they wait to cross into France, in the Italian city of Ventimiglia. Photo: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP

Italy: we'll hurt Europe over migrant crisis

AFP · 15 Jun 2015, 08:26

Published: 14 Jun 2015 13:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jun 2015 08:26 GMT+02:00

The country is struggling to accommodate an endless wave of boat migrants, and a crackdown on security at the borders with France and Austria has exacerbated the situation, causing a bottleneck at Italy's train stations.

The crisis "should not be underestimated", Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said, as Austria, France and Switzerland expelled asylum seekers back onto Italian soil.

"Let me be clear, Europe's answers so far have not been good enough," Renzi added.

The EU is having difficulty achieving consensus for its proposed migrant distribution plan - under which 24,000 refugees would be taken in by other countries - but Italy is hoping an EU summit on June 25-26 will go even further.

"Redistributing just 24,000 people is almost a provocation," Renzi said.

"If Europe chooses solidarity, good. If it doesn't, we have Plan B ready. But it would first and foremost hurt Europe," he said, without providing details.

Renzi has come under pressure to take a stronger stance with the 28-member bloc, with the anti-establishment Five Star movement suggesting Italy threaten to freeze its EU budget contributions if aid is not forthcoming.

Secret Plan B

"I cannot reveal our Plan B," Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told Sky TG24, "but if Europe is not supportive, it will find itself dealing with a different Italy. We will not accept a selfish Europe."

Alfano said he would ask the EU at a meeting of interior ministers on Tuesday for "fair distribution of migrants, camps in Libya and a serious policy on repatriation" of economic migrants.

Any such plan for camps would hinge on Libya's opposing factions reaching a political agreement, or Italy convincing the UN to adopt a resolution.

Over 57,000 migrants and asylum seekers have been rescued at sea and brought to Italy so far this year - up from 54,000 at the same time last year - Renzi said, and Rome wants both a long-term solution and help from other countries now.

It wants the EU to forge repatriation deals with African nations and share the cost of returning home would-be economic migrants, who currently make up around 60 percent of those arriving by boat.

Renzi will raise the issue with his British and French counterparts when they travel to Milan this week, as well as speaking to European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Under the Dublin convention, refugees must apply for asylum in the first country of entry to Europe -- a rule which Italy says is unfair as it leaves Rome to deal with the thousands of migrants washing up on its shores. Greece has also long complained of being left with the same problem.

The Dublin convention "should be changed," Renzi said, insisting the current chaos in Libya - from where many of the boats depart - is "Europe's responsibility in light of the (military) intervention four years ago" by Nato to help rebels unseat dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The Schengen open borders accord has until now meant those landing in Italy can usually easily travel through neighbouring France, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia as they seek to make it to Britain, Germany and Scandinavia. But border controls were temporarily reintroduced by Germany last week ahead of hosting the G7 summit.

A subsequent tightening of the frontier at the French-Italian border as well, where police have refused entry to people hoping to head to northern Europe, has sparked migrant protests.

Austria, France, Switzerland repel

Some of the men, women and children from Somalia, Eritrea, the Ivory Coast and Sudan said they had initially made it across the border into France by train, but been arrested and escorted back across the frontier by police.

Story continues below…

Austrian police also announced on Sunday they would be returning to Italy 24 African migrants arrested while trying to get to Germany by train.

In Switzerland, border police spokesman Attila Lardori said 240 migrants were expelled back to Italy over the weekend,adding that officers on average round up between 30 and 50 migrants a day on trains crossing between Italy and France.

The standoff at Ventimiglia on the border with France raisedparticular concern in Italy, with the anti-establishment Five Star movement saying "Paris is treating migrants like parcels to return to sender: it's shameful."

The crackdown has increased pressure on Italy's already overcrowded reception facilities, with hundreds of people sleeping rough in the main train stations in Rome and Milan.

As television images showed yet more arrivals by sea, authorities in Milan rushed to convert a warehouse into a centre,while in Rome the civil protection agency set up a temporary tent camp.

Migrants sporting scars from wounds suffered in conflict-hit homelands or lawless Libya were tended to by the Red Cross.

Around 1,800 people have drowned attempting the crossing so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Today's headlines
Forty children drown as shipwrecks claim up to 700
A migrant boat capsizing last week. Photo: Courtesy of Marina Militare

A week of shipwrecks and death in the Mediterranean culminated Sunday with harrowing testimony from migrant survivors who said another 500 people including 40 children had drowned, bringing the number of feared dead to 700.

Dozens missing in fresh migrant shipwreck: rescuers
Dozens more migrants are reported missing after a fishing boat sank on Friday. Photo: AFP

The Italian coastguard is searching for survivors after an overloaded fishing boat sank off the coast of Libya.

'Racist' Chinese ad causes outrage...but Italy did it first
Screengrab: Qiaobi/YouTube

A TV advert for a Chinese laundry detergent has been widely condemned, with commentators saying it’s the most racist ad to ever be screened. But hang on, a similar one was made in Italy...

Alicia Keys to sing live at Milan Champions League final
Alicia Keys will become the first person to sing live at a Champions League final. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images/AFP

The final will be held at Milan's San Siro stadium on Saturday.

Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
The wreck of the P311. Photo: Massimo Domenico Bondone

People were stunned by the discovery of a body-filled, Second World War-era submarine off the coast of Sardinia earlier this week, not least Paul Denison, who told The Local his great-uncle was among the 71 who perished on board.

Man can pay ex-wife's alimony with pizza, Italian court rules
A court in Padua has ruled in favour of a divorced father who pays alimony to his ex-wife in the form of pizza. Photo: Erich Ferdinand/Flickr

Every family's needs are different...

Iconic photos of Hiroshima horror go on show in Rome
Ken Domon at work. Photo: Wikimedia commons

It is the first time the works have gone on display outside Japan.

Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
The research paints a grim picture of the dangers faced by ancient Roman workers . Photo: Carla Caladarini

The average Roman worker suffered several broken bones, had arthritis at 20 and was dead by 30.

Video
Over 100 feared dead in new migrant boat tragedies in Med
An image taken of Wednesday's migrant shipwreck. Photo: Marina Miltare

Over 100 migrants were feared dead on Thursday after two crowded boats capsized off Libya in separate incidents, with one of the tragedies captured on video that shows dramatic rescues and desperate final moments.

Italian man lay dead in flat for 5 years before anyone noticed
The man's body was found at his home in Cagliari, Sardinia. Photo: Simon Frost

"Nobody questioned his disappearance, nobody went looking for him."

Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
National
How Italy's richest region is feeling the migrant strain
Culture
Rome mulls 'metro museum' after new line unearths ruin
National
Why Italy's facing a birth rate apocalypse
National
Why talk of barriers is opening up old wounds in South Tyrol
Culture
Huge Roman villa found under Amalfi church set to open
Travel
Two men kicked off plane in what captain calls 'racist act'
Meet the expats making a career out of Italian food
Society
'Staying single is why I'm the world's oldest person'
Travel
Where can you find the best beaches in Italy?
The ultimate guide to the insanity of driving in Italy
Travel
Eight of Rome's most tantalizing foreign food gems
Migrant arrivals in Italy top 30,000 for 2016: navy
Italy’s deadliest earthquakes over the last 100 years
Travel
US passports now need six months validity for Italy
Travel
Six incredible ways Italy profoundly changed my life
Society
Cheese, wine and family: the Italian way to live beyond 100
2,522
jobs available