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As Migration Surges, Italy Weighs Barring Some Rescue Boats

Mr. Salvini approvingly named Hungary, Austria and France as countries that have demonstrated a willingness to turn migrants away. Other countries, such as Poland, have refused to host asylum seekers and lighten Italy’s load.

This is frustrating to the Italian government, but also to many migrants who feel stuck in Italy because European Union rules state that, while waiting for judgments on their asylum requests, they must stay in the country where they were first registered. Often that country is Italy.

In recent conversations with asylum seekers on Italy’s northern border, where migrants stood around sweltering reception centers and loitered around Lake Como, several said that they appreciated Italy for rescuing them from the sea but that they dreamed of moving to Germany or Northern Europe for work.

Italian government officials have argued that Italy is taking on too much of the burden, and last week leaders of European Union member states agreed to free up more funds to help Italy and Greece, another front-line nation, with the rising number of migrants.

Italy has also sought to stem the flow at the source of the migration.

The Italian government, like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, has advocated that Europe concentrate on development in African countries to discourage people from leaving. The European Union has even sought to train the Libyan Coast Guard and provide it with faster boats to better patrol its own coast. Migrants who are intercepted before reaching international waters can be returned there.

But it does not seem to be working.

If the current pace holds, more migrants will arrive in Italy this year than the 180,000 that the Interior Ministry recorded last year. More than 60,000 arrived in the first five months of 2017.

Ms. Sami, the United Nations spokeswoman, said the focus on nongovernmental ships was misplaced. She said more focus was needed on stopping traffickers in Africa and getting the thousands of people making the journey from Niger to Libya to stay.

Once they are in the water, she said, “the first imperative — and we don’t see any exception — is to save lives.”

Source: NYT > World

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