Published: Sun, June 24, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

European Union leaders to hold mini-summit on migration

European Union leaders to hold mini-summit on migration

Earlier this month Salvini triggered an EU-wide row when he barred the French charity-run Aquarius rescue ship, carrying 630 migrants, from docking in Italy.

Malta has said it is not responsible for the boat, even though it is now in Maltese rescue waters. Borrell had also spoken to Italian officials, she added. "Welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk", he said.

The figure was a "conservative estimate", United Nations spokesman William Spindler said in Geneva on Friday.

In a video posted to Facebook on Thursday, Salvini criticised Mission Lifeline for not heeding the instructions of Italian or Libyan authorities.

He added that rejecting from July 1 migrants who have already registered in other European Union countries would be legal: "It's the existing law".

Mission Lifeline said Friday that it still has not been assigned a port, despite its requests.

He did not specify where exactly the migrants were rescued.

"The rescue of human lives must be prioritised before border control".

Italy's new right-wing government has taken a harder stance on rescue ships bringing large numbers of migrants to Italy, which is often the nearest port for those rescued off coast of Libya.

On the eve of a mini-summit about the divisive migration issue, Macron and Sanchez also declared support for the creation of closed reception centers where migrants would be held while their asylum claims are considered. Merkel told one student in English: "We try to help you get an education".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned it could be hard to reach a deal in such a politically charged atmosphere.

Popular misgivings over the migrant influx have given populist and anti-immigration forces a boost across several European nations, including Italy and Austria where far-right parties are now sharing power.

"They are in bad conditions, not only medical conditions but (also) psychological conditions, and they really need urgent medical care and psychological care", UNHCR spokesman Marco Rotunno told Reuters.

Data from the German interior ministry does indicate that the proportion of crimes committed by foreigners has gone up in the past five years, but this can not be attributed specifically to migrant arrivals.

Merkel told reporters she was still convinced that Europe needed to work together to combat the causes of the refugee flow by helping improve conditions in the countries of origin while at the same time increasing security at Europe's outer borders and cracking down on smugglers.

Italy has also turned away the boat, with Matteo Salvini, the country's new hardline immigration minister saying that those on board will "only see Italy on a postcard".

"Merkel needs to do this to help Seehofer climb down from a tree", one senior European Union diplomat said.

Migrants seeking to reach Europe were picked up in their hundreds in the Mediterranean on Friday and Saturday.

Macron said he is favorable to that but his proposal is aimed at migrants who have already reached Europe.

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