Italy Threatens to Close Docks to Migrant Boats to Force EU to Act on Spiraling Crisis

Zoe O'Brien, Express, June 29, 2017

Italy: Coast Guard ship brings over 1,000 migrants

Migrants disembark from an Italian Coast Guard ship at a dock in Palermo, Italy on June 19, 2017. 1,096 migrants, including 751 men, 160 women (11 of them pregnant) and 185 minors, were brought ashore. Police and Italian Red Cross members were present at the scene. (Credit Image: © Antonio Melita/Pacific Press via ZUMA Wire)

Italy has threatened to seal its docks to foreign ships bringing in rescued migrants from the Mediterranean – after 25,000 arrivals in six days.

The country is buckling under the strain of the migrant crisis while “some countries” in the EU “are looking the other way”, the country’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said.

Italy is giving an ultimatum to the European Union to take action or face docks being closed off as huge numbers of desperate refugees fleeing war, famine and torture in Africa.

Mr Gentiloni said: ”In the last few hours we are facing the difficulty of managing migratory flows.

“We can talk about solutions and concerns, but I want to remember that it is an entire country (Italy) that is mobilising to manage this emergency, to control flows, to fight against human traffickers.

“I want to ask Europe, some European countries to stop looking the other way, because this is not sustainable.”

Italy’s ambassador to the EU Maurizio Massari is set to demand action from European migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, press agency ANSA reported Wednesday.

But the move to stop rescue ships coming to the nation could be blocked by Italian and EU law.

More than 10,000 asylum seekers arrived in the country between Saturday and Tuesday, and 12,000 arrived in the past 48 hours.

Launches from Libya are set to explode this summer as militia battles with the Government intensify in the embattled country.

Men, women and children have been taking to unsafe dinghies and makeshift rafts to try to make it to safe shores in the European Union.

In the search and rescue zones (SAR), 12 miles of the coast of Libya, ships from across the EU are battling to save lives – some just hours old.

Rescue ships have been able to bring the mainly African nationals straight to Italy where they are processed through immigration camps in the country.

Persecution, rape and torture in Libya is worsening, with most fleeing after being sold on black slave markets or brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.

So far, the response of the European Union has been to offer cash and training to the Libyan coastguard to stop the boats leaving the shores, where militia and Government battle over migrants and people smugglers make millions.

Further chaos is expected this summer after the announcement from Hope Not Hate that a group of far-right activists have chartered a boat in the Mediterranean to disrupt rescue missions.

Identitarian activists for the ‘Defend Europe’ campaign raised €65,000 to support efforts to impede humanitarian missions.

Nick Lowles, chief executive of HOPE not hate, said: “While the Identitarian movement has always used controversial and confrontational tactics the hiring of this ship is emblematic of a dangerous new confidence within the movement.

“The project also reveals an increasingly international threat, with key activists coming from across Europe while support, including financial, has flooded in from around the world.

“We will be monitoring the ship’s movements very closely and liaising with NGOs and supporters over the coming months to ensure the relevant authorities are aware of the situation. We will forge a coalition of progressive organisations to oppose this dangerous new development on our high seas.”

Defend Europe intends to follow search-and-rescue vessels, document their activities and ‘confront’ them by blockading them on the seas. The aim is to force the NGO ships to alter their routes, drain their financial and organisational resources, as well inspire others to support the mission.

Thousands of innocent people could drown every day if their missions are successful.

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