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Migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea Migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea  ( AFP or licensors AFP or licensors)

German coalition threatened over migration

A major rift has opened up between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her interior minister over migrant policy, threatening her coalition government. The tensions emerged while elsewhere in the EU, Spain announced it had rescued hundreds of migrants from dozens of boats trying to cross from Africa by sea.

By Stefan J. Bos

German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposes a plan to send police to the southern borders to turn back migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.  She has held emergency talks with her Christian Democrat legislators amid rising tensions over migration with the minister of interior of the Christian Social Union party.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer wants to send police to the southern border to turn back migrants who have registered as asylum-seekers in other European countries.

Merkel fears such a move could shift the burden onto countries such as Italy and Greece that have struggled to cope with the influx of migrants coming across the Mediterranean.

The chancellor told reporters that she views "illegal migration as one of the most significant challenges facing the European Union." But she made clear that she "opposes unilateral moves" to turn some refugees back as such action in her view would weaken the EU.

Merkel believes that the coalition will survive the tensions. But they have underscored more frictions within the EU amid a new wave of migrants.

SPAIN RESCUES HUNDREDS


Spain's maritime rescue service said Friday it had rescued around 270 migrants and recovered three bodies from more than 30 boats trying to cross from Africa by sea.

The announcement came while French President Emmanuel Macron and new Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte meet Friday amid tensions between the two countries over migration.

Their quarrel was triggered this week by Macron's harsh assessment of Italy's decision to shut its ports to a rescue ship carrying 629 migrants. That ship is now on its way to Spain where it was expected to dock this weekend. 

Macron initially he called the Italian government's behavior "irresponsible," but his office later said he "meant to offend" Italy which has taken in some 640,000 migrants in recent years.

However rights group Oxfam isn't impressed with the way Italy and France are coping with refugees at their borders.

MIGRANTS SUFFERING MISERY


In a report released Friday, the group said migrants who live through the trauma of camps in Libya, make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Italy and try to push north face misery at the French-Italian border.

It says many languish in a no man's land without adequate food, water, shelter or fundamental rights.
 
Amid the migrant's misery there and at sea, Pope Francis said that the Gospel teaches it's wrong to leave migrants "at the mercy of the waves."

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15 June 2018, 17:23