Italy has agreed to allow 450 migrants, who were picked up from an overcrowded boat Saturday, to disembark in Sicily. The migrants were rescued by two vessels from the European Union’s (EU) Frontex mission. Only 57 women and children have been allowed to land in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo. Following an appeal, Italian authorities have said that France, Germany, Malta, Portugal and Spain all agreed to take 50 migrants each.
“In this context which always sees Italy in the frontline of saving lives at sea, I ask you for a clear sign on sharing the responsibility of managing the migrant issue,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in letters sent to the governments of the 27 other EU member countries.
“This is the solidarity and responsibility that we have always asked of Europe and now, after the results obtained at the last European Council, they are beginning to become reality,” Conte posted to social media. “Let’s continue on this path with firmness and respect for human rights.”
“Germany and Italy have agreed that, in view of the ongoing talks on closer bilateral cooperation on asylum, Germany is ready to accept 50 people in this case,” a German Government spokeswoman said Sunday.
Italy’s Foreign Ministry has said Rome will allow migrants rescued by a European Union naval operation to land over the coming weeks while EU member states figure out how to divide up new arrivals, AP reported. Italy is seeking to renegotiate Operation Sophia’s mandate to prevent rescued migrants from being brought exclusively to Italy. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday that, over the next five weeks, EU countries will discuss how rescued migrants can be distributed in Europe. Sophia’s commander recently ordered participating ships to return to port. However, German officials said on Monday that a German ship participating in the operation had set out to sea again.