Accusations Mount on Italy as it fails to take in Immigrants off its Coast
France, on Tuesday, scolded Italy for its negligence of hundreds of immigrants off its cost. The government spokesperson, Benjamin Griveaux, said in a statement that the international law mandated that countries nearest to distressed ships had the responsibility to take-in persons stranded out at sea, something that Italy did not do.
A stand-off ensued between top officials in EU, Paris, and Italy after Italian officials expressed their incapacity to host the immigrants aboard the ship. Although the ship was closer to Italy and the French Islands of Corsica, signals of distress were not answered by Italian coast officials. Administrative authorities in Corsica are said to have offered a safe harbor for the ship, a move that EU and French officials termed as impossible due to the incapacitation of the Corsican port.
After laying out stranded in the seas, the ship was later on Tuesday accepted by Spanish officials. The ship then headed to the port of Valencia where the socialist government offered refuge to the 629 immigrants.
The Tuesday standoff between the two nations is an indication of the hardline positions that the countries have taken in the recent past regarding the issue of immigration. France has been on the frontline as far as enforcing its internal security by keeping away immigrants, especially those who come to the country illegally.
Italy, on the other hand, has been working towards deporting hundreds of immigrants who have sought asylum for economic reasons. The Italian Interior Minister said that his country would not offer itself as the ‘refugee camp’ on behalf of the rest of Europe. Matteo Salvini said that his country had been the first preference for immigrants flocking Europe from the North African peninsula. Over 700,000 immigrants have made attempts to cross the Mediterranean since 2013, fleeing from conflict in Libya.
The immigrants were rescued off the Libyan coast at the weekend after being found aboard inflatable boats. They were boarded into the Aquarius and are currently being taken care of by the Doctors without Borders and the SOS Mediterranean, an international charity, and rescue group.
The charity group on early Tuesday revealed that they had been given escort and security to proceed to the port of Valencia. It was also revealed that both the rescue personnel and the immigrants were weary of the long duration of waiting at sea, but were relieved that supplies and hopes of docking were very much alive.
Italy has taken in the largest number of immigrants this year, with the country having hosted over 14,330 of the 35,455 immigrants who have sought entry in Europe.
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