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CNN: France and Italy squabble over migrants

11-11-2022 |

The French government on Thursday suspended a deal to take 3,500 asylum-seekers currently in Italy, as Paris criticized the newly appointed right-wing Italian government of Prime Minister Georgia Meloni for not accepting passengers from the Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship.

Italy has not allowed the vessel to dock in its territory, leaving in limbo some 230 passengers who were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday that France would allow the ship to dock in the French military port of Toulon on Friday. He blamed the “the new Italian leadership” for making the “incomprehensible choice not to respond to the many requests for assistance sent by the ship” even though the boat was “clearly in the search and rescue area of Italy.”

Darmanin also announced that France would immediately pull out from a European Union agreement where some asylum-seekers accepted by Italy would be welcomed for relocation in other EU countries.

“France suspends all relocations of 3,500 refugees currently in Italy and calls on all other participants in the European mechanism, including Germany, to do the same” minister said.

Italy hit back and described France’s reaction as “totally incomprehensible” and “disproportionate.”

“The reaction that France is having in the face of a request to take in 234 migrants — when Italy has taken in 90,000 this year alone — is totally incomprehensible in the face of constant calls for solidarity owed to these people,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said in a statement, following Darmanin’s comments.

It also shows “how firm and determined the posture of other nations in the face of illegal immigration is. What we do not understand is why Italy should willingly accept something that others are not willing to accept,” Piantedosi went on to say.

The International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC) thanked France for “doing the right thing.”

France’s decision came after the European Commission on Wednesday called for the “immediate disembarkation, at the nearest place of safety, of all persons rescued and who are on board the Ocean Viking.”

Source: CNN