Italy calls for Frontex to step up on migrant crisis
25 Agosto 2014
That is what the government is working on".
Italian officials will discuss the issue with Frontex representatives and a European Commission delegation in Rome Tuesday, European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Monday. The results of their talks will be discussed by Malmstroem with Interior Minister Angelino Alfano in Brussels Wednesday. Italy is struggling to cope with a rise in migrants and asylum seekers from countries like Syria and Iraq through North Africa. For weeks it has been urging Frontex to take up the strain but EU officials have said the border agency is short of personnel and funding. Meanwhile at least six people died Monday in the seas off Italy's southern coast when a vessel carrying about 370 migrants capsized. A search through the Mare Nostrum rescue programme was continuing for others who may have survived the initial disaster. It was among numerous vessels carrying almost 4,000 migrants who were rescued between Friday and Sunday evening in a series of operations through the Mare Nostrum effort that was established almost one year ago. Government officials have said that approximately 100,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, some arriving safely on their own but many rescued by Italy. Most are fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and are so desperate to find safety in Europe that they make the risky crossing. Interior Minister Alfano said recently the country cannot continue to take in so many desperate people who are heading for other parts of Europe with Italy just their first stop. He said that through FRontex, the European Union must do much more to help with the migrant emergency that Italy has so far coped with largely on its own. The minister made his comments following a European Commission statement that Frontex is "a small agency, and needs more funds". "The EU is stating the obvious," Alfano said at the time.
"Money is scarce, and member States must intervene". The EU must take responsibility for beefing up Frontex so it can replace Italy's Mare Nostrum operation before Italy closes that mission altogether, Alfano said. MARE NOSTRUM 'HAS SAVED 113,000' SAYS NAVY CHIEF. Some 113,000 migrants have been rescued from dangerous seas by Mare Nostrum, established less than one year ago to save lives, Giuseppe De Giorgi, chief of staff for the Italian Navy, said Monday. Most migrants rescued to date came from Eritrea, Syria, and Mali - all countries torn by civil war, said De Giorgi. His figures were matched by a warning that landings "fatten the mafia" as too many migrants are preyed upon by the mafia when they arrive in Italy with no resources or support. Davide Mattiello, a legislator with the Democratic Party (PD) and member of the government's Anti-Mafia Commission, said that the rescue program should be halted because it plays into the hands of organized crime. Many migrants are forced to work as prostitutes, drug dealers or smugglers, and in other tasks under the control of the mafia, he said. "In the foreground there is the drama of human beings who die, clinging to an illusion and the tremendous work of the Italian Navy and those who devote themselves in the initial reception of survivors," said Mattiello. "But just in the background there are the interests of the Italian mafia organizations and foreign (criminals) operating in Italy to take advantage of the manna represented by this humanity landing in our country," he added. Instead, a pan-national solution through Frontex would deal more effectively with the migrant crisis, said Mattiello. 'IT'S A WAR' SAY VATICAN ORGAN. The "daily massacre" of illegal immigrants drowning in the Mediterranean is "like a war," the semi-official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said Monday. "The number of deaths in the Mediterranean by now are more than those of a war," the Holy See's newspaper said in a report on the "latest massacre" discovered, that of "18 bodies recovered by men of the Italian Navy two days ago aboard a dinghy 120 miles south of the island of Lampedusa". Those deaths "need to be added to around 200 people missing for whom the Libyan coast guard still are searching". "In the Mediterranean one is fighting a new silent war: a hecatomb without end, of immigration," said L'Osservatore. TURN MARE NOSTRUM INTERNATIONAL SAYS DE GIORGI. In later remarks, De Giorgi said Mare Nostrum should be turned into an international mission with as many participating nations as possible. Mare Nostrum should become an Italy-led mission along the lines of the EU's Atalanta anti-piracy operation, De Giorgi said Monday.
"This way we could split the cost," he told ANSA.