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  • Europe is once again in disarray over its handling of migrants

  • coming across the Mediterranean from the Libyan coast.

  • There are two rescue vessels in the Mediterranean at the moment

  • with several hundred migrants on board,

  • including scores of children, who have been seeking a safe

  • harbour.

  • But they've been mostly denied by various EU countries.

  • One of the vessels, the Open Arms,

  • has been circling the Mediterranean

  • after it was denied entry into Italian ports.

  • On Wednesday, an Italian court overturned a government ban.

  • And the Open Arms is now sailing towards Lampedusa,

  • where it hopes it will be able to enter into the harbour

  • and offload the people that it has on board.

  • However, Matteo Salvini, Italy's hardline interior minister,

  • is determined to stop the boat docking.

  • Mr Salvini argues that this is no longer Italy's problem, even

  • though its ports are often closest

  • and it has humanitarian obligations to help.

  • Open Arms, for example, is a Spanish boat.

  • And he thinks that Spain should take in the migrants.

  • Spain has so far refused to do so,

  • pointing out that it has already taken

  • 20,000 migrants across the Mediterranean,

  • mostly from Morocco, so far this year.

  • But it now seems ready to accept at least some

  • of those people who are on board.

  • At the root of the issue here is the fact

  • that Europe's asylum system puts an unfair burden

  • on frontline countries.

  • The rules require asylum seekers to apply

  • for asylum in the first country in the EU where they step foot.

  • That puts an intolerable burden on countries like Greece

  • and Italy and now Spain.

  • Previous EU attempts to ensure that there's

  • a fairer sharing of the burden have

  • been scuppered by resistance, especially in eastern Europe.

  • President Emmanuel Macron, earlier this summer,

  • brought together a number of countries

  • to try and come up with a system of co-operation and burden

  • sharing.

  • But Italy, perhaps betraying Mr Salvini's political motives

  • here, boycotted the event.

  • The numbers coming across the central Mediterranean area are

  • just a fraction of what they were in the 2015 to 2016

  • migrant crisis when 1.4m made their way across the sea

  • into Europe.

  • But it is still a huge problem for the EU,

  • revealing its political divisions

  • and the lack of a common asylum system

  • that allows the bloc to handle the arrival of migrants

  • without putting their lives at risk.

Europe is once again in disarray over its handling of migrants

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B2 FinancialTimes mediterranean asylum italy burden eu

What Italy's rejection of migrant boats tells us about Europe | FT

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/27
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