Vatican News
Migrants attempting to cross the sea from Libya Migrants attempting to cross the sea from Libya  (ANSA)

Interior ministers demand EU response to new migrant crisis

Italy and Malta are pressuring fellow European Union nations to help them with migrants rescued at sea. Their countries' interior ministers and those from France and Germany are in Malta to develop some automatic mechanism to distribute often desperate people within the EU, despite opposition among several member states.

By Stefan J. Bos

The Interior Ministers of Italy, Malta, France, and Germany are meeting at a time of concerns about a growing influx of migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty.

They demand that those rescued at sea will be distributed among other countries and not only be the responsibility of the nations where they land.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said they want an "emergency mechanism" for the coming months until the incoming EU's executive  European Commission starts working on a permanent arrangement.

Seehofer said thorny questions include which ports can be used, how to distribute the migrants in Europe and also fight human traffickers.

Ahead of the gathering, Italy's prime minister urged Giuseppe Conte urged more unity within the EU. "We must remove propaganda from the migration issue. The propaganda that is also anti-European. We must continue to offer a rigorous response against the trafficking of human lives," he said.

Opposing redistribution

However, EU member states such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland oppose the redistribution of migrants.  

But with tens of thousands of people arriving in Europe from by boat so far this year, the interior ministers meeting demand a
different approach to what they view as a humanitarian crisis.

EU officials are also participating at the Malta meeting.

The gathering comes while elsewhere in Greece, security and municipal services on the Greek island of Lesbos were to hold an emergency meeting. They are worried after administrators of a refugee camp said, they were overwhelmed by the number of arrivals from nearby Turkey.

The camp at Moria on the Aegean Sea island began turning away new arrivals Friday as the number of people at the site exceeded 12,000, four times its intended capacity.

Massive influx

Authorities say that the rapidly rising numbers had created the worst crisis on the island since the massive influx of refugees into Europe four years ago.

The government has promised stricter sea patrols. But is also seeks additional international support, including resources from the EU border protection agency Frontex.

They attempt to hold the influx while also rescuing people at sea who often use clumsy and dangerous boats in an attempt to reach Europe.  

Many men, women, and children have drowned.

23 September 2019, 18:56