World Bulletin / News Desk
Italy's interior minister called Sunday on other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships ahead of talks with France and Germany on tackling the migrant emergency.
With arrivals in Italy up nearly 19 percent compared to the same period last year, Rome has threatened to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats or insist funding is cut off to EU countries which fail to help with the crisis.
"There are NGO ships, Sophia and Frontex boats, Italian coast guard vessels" saving migrants in the Mediterranean, he said in a reference to the aid boats as well as the vessels deployed under EU border security and anti-trafficker missions.
"They are sailing under the flags of various European countries. If the only ports refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. This is the heart of the question," he said.
"I am a Europhile and I would be proud if even one vessel, instead of arriving in Italy, went to another European port. It would not resolve Italy's problem but it would be an extraordinary signal" that Europe wanted to help Rome, he said.
Over 83,000 people rescued while attempting the perilous crossing from Libya have been brought to Italy so far this year, according to the UN, while more than 2,160 have died trying, the International Organisation for Migration says.
Italy's Red Cross has warned the situation in the country's overcrowded reception centres is becoming critical.
Interior minister Minniti was set to meet counterparts Gerard Collomb of France, Thomas de Maiziere of Germany and European Union Commissioner for Refugees Dimitris Avramopoulos at 1800 GMT in the French capital.Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2017, 12:58