ROME: Italy is receiving assistance from France and Germany in coping with the migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa, some two months after a European Union (EU) agreement on distributing migrants arriving by boat, the Interior Ministry in Rome said.
A French delegation had over recent days selected a group of migrants in the south-eastern city of Bari for resettling in France, and Germany was planning a similar mission this month, dpa news agency reported citing the Ministry as saying on Friday.
Italy, the main first destination for migrants attempting the hazardous crossing from the North African coast, has for years called for greater assistance from other EU member states, and on June 10, 21 members agreed on a solidarity mechanism to help southern European members.
To date, 13 member states have stated their willingness to absorb more than 8,000 people, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said this week.
Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese referred to an “historic step for the union”.
The Italian authorities have registered more than 42,000 migrants arriving by boat so far this year, well above the comparable figure for last year of around 30,000.
If a centre-right political alliance win the September 25 elections, as pre-election polling predicts, they have pledged stronger action against migrants.
Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League (Lega) in the grouping, said on Friday during a visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa off the Tunisian coast, that he would like to appoint a special commissioner to halt the flow of migrants.
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the extreme right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party, which is leading in the polls, says she plans to intern migrants in camps in North Africa.