Macron hosts Italian PM Conte after trading barbs over migrants

Pauline Gross
June 15, 2018

The two governments have recently traded angry words over Italy's refusal to accept a rescue ship, Aquarius, carrying 629 mainly African migrants.

They claim around 16,500 refugees and migrants, a quarter of them unaccompanied children, passed through Ventimiglia, a small town about 7km (four miles) from the French border, in the nine months to April. No such port was assigned to the NGO.

Hours later, the Italian government said it could not "take hypocritical lessons from countries who have always preferred to look the other way on immigration issues".

France, she said, had also taken the second-biggest share of migrants relocated from Greece and Italy.

Italy's new economy minister shelved a meeting with his French counterpart in Paris on Wednesday as a result of the dispute.

Italy's argument with France came after Macron on Tuesday blasted what he called Italy's cynicism and irresponsibility in turning away the Aquarius.

Spain stepped in and said the migrants could land at the port of Valencia.

On Monday, Spain said that it would be welcoming the Aquarius and allowing it to dock in Valencia.

Salvini's League scored its best-ever result in March national elections, partly on pledges to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants and halt the flow of newcomers, and has formed a coalition with the anti-system 5-Star Movement.

On Tuesday morning, Italy sent some medical supplies to the Aquarius where 21 people where suffering from chemical burns from the mix of salt water and spilled fuel that had been in the rubber boats.

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Italy's deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio struck a combative tone on Thursday.

Calvo said minors and women are a priority; especially those who may have been trafficked or exploited in their attempt to reach Europe.

The report alleges that French police routinely apprehend unaccompanied children and put them on trains to Italy, after altering their paperwork to make them appear older, or to give the appearance that returning to Italy was their choice.

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The Pope also called for a multinational response to illegal migration because the problem often "exceeds the capacities and resources" of individual countries.

Francis made his comments in a message to participants at a conference on global migration being held in the Vatican.

United Nations refugee chief Filippo Grandi urged the European Union on Wednesday to sort out its "shameful" refugee policy after both Italy and Malta turned away a ship carrying hundreds of migrants.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said he was certain Italy would do its part but said there must be a "common response to this problem so that Italy isn't left alone". The Aquarius, with some 600 people saved from the sea over the last few weeks, is sailing to Spain after the country agreed to welcome the ship.

More than 1.8 million migrants have arrived in Europe since 2014, and Italy is now sheltering more than 170,000 asylum seekers, as well as an estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants.

Other reports by GizPress

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