EU plan lags as just 90 migrants leave Italy

EU plan lags as just 90 migrants leave Italy
A small group of Eritreans left Italy on October 9th. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
A plan to move thousands of asylum seekers from Italy to elsewhere in the EU is already falling by the wayside as just 90 people have left over the past month.

Under the bitterly contested plan, 80 asylum seekers were supposed to leave Italy each day as part of an agreement that would see 40,000 relocated over two years.

But only 90 have left – 50 to Sweden and 40 to Finland – since October 9th, despite Italy asking its EU partners to take in 525, La Repubblica reported.

In September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered Italy and Greece to urgently set up ‘hotspots’ to swiftly process asylum requests, arguing that the redistribution plan depended on it.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano was quoted by La Repubblica as saying that Italy would open five centres only if the rest of the EU commits to the agreed plan.

When the plan kicked off earlier this month, 19 Eritreans, bound for Sweden, were waved off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport by Alfano and EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos. Alfano hailed the day as “an important one for the EU”.

Over the past few weeks, 31 more left for Sweden and 50 for Finland, while further requests were made for Germany and the Netherlands to take in more.

But their arrival in Sweden has exacerbated problems in the Scandinavian country, which is grappling with a nationwide shortage of accommodation for the record number of new arrivals.

Read more: Sweden doubles refugee arrival forecast for 2015

Almost 140,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, a nine percent decline on last year.