Italy begins crackdown on migrants, seizing ships

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Marco Minniti, Italy’s interior minister, is demanding that other European nations help the southern European country deal with the immigration crisis as thousands of Libyan asylum-seekers — mostly young men, from the looks of photos — arrive on its shores via privately-run rafts and boats.

Now, Italian officials want a European code of conduct to be drawn up for the boats, many of which turn into rescue missions.

Speaking on Sunday, Minniti said:

“We have to distinguish before they set off across the Mediterranean between those who have a right to humanitarian protection and those who don’t. And, on the basis of the decisions made by the UNHCR, we must ensure the former depart for Europe while economic migrants are voluntarily repatriated to their countries of origin.”

The interior minister told the Il Messaggero newspaper, “We are under enormous pressure.”

As throngs of Libyans float into Italy, the government is threatening to close its ports to privately-funded aid boats if EU countries won’t help with funding, because the Italian coast guard is so often forced to save migrants in the Mediterranean… and pay for it themselves.

Another big help would be a regional maritime command center, which Italians say would oversee all rescue operations from Greece to Libya to Spain and disburse the Libyan arrivals throughout all E.U. countries.

Italian officials also want the current EU refugee relocation program to be expanded to include other nationalities, such as Nigerians, according to La Repubblica.

UN data shows that so far this year, more than 83,000 people have been rescued while attempting to cross the seas between Libya and Italy, and more than 2,160 have died during the journey.

Italy’s Red Cross reports that overcrowding in their reception centers is fast becoming a critical situation.

Paolo Romani, the head of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party in the Senate, says that the ports should be closed to the migrants. “The attempt to involve Europe, which clearly doesn’t give a damn, is pathetic,” he stated.

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