News / Europe

Italy Accepts Migrants Stranded in Mediterranean

Migrants prepare to disembark in the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Aug. 7, 2013, after being rescued at sea by the Italian Coast Guard.
Migrants prepare to disembark in the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Aug. 7, 2013, after being rescued at sea by the Italian Coast Guard.
Selah Hennessy
Italy has agreed to take in more than 100 migrants who have been stranded for days on a tanker in the Mediterranean after Malta refused to allow them entry.  Malta and other Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece are calling for the European Union to share the burden as migrants flood to EU's entry points and, they say, swamp their local populations. 

The migrants arrived in Italy on Wednesday.  They were rescued from their badly damaged inflatable boat by a tanker off the coast of Libya on Sunday and had been stranded since then.

Four pregnant women and a five-month-old baby are believed to be among the group. 

But Malta’s prime minister had said the migrants were not in distress and refused to allow them into his small island country.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked Italy for accepting the migrants.

“We are happy that Italy agreed, of course, because the priority must be given to the assistance of the migrants who are in distress and in need of assistance,” said Flavio Di Giacomo from the International Organization for Migration, or IOM in Italy.

Malta is a top gateway for migrants attempting to reach Europe from Africa.  According to the United Nations, last year more than 1,500 people arrived by sea, a large influx for a country with a population of only around 500,000.

Relative to its population, Malta receives the highest number of asylum applications in the world.

Christian Schweiger is a Europe expert at Durham University in the north of England.  He said Malta was not alone in its struggle to cope with the influx of migrants.

“The countries like Spain, Italy and Malta - the ones at the southern front of the European Union - have been bombarded with thousands of migrants from particularly Africa in recent years.  And these countries have been calling on the European Commission for help,” said Schweiger.

He said Malta, especially, felt it has been overburdened and that other European Union countries should share the load of asylum seekers from Africa.

Earlier this year the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution to give greater support to so-called "frontline" countries, including by exploring new approaches to relocate refugees and asylum seekers within Europe.

But Schweiger said it’s a difficult road to navigate.

“The major problem is that we do not have a common European asylum policy and this is obviously the result of all countries in the European Union, particularly the large ones in Central Europe like Germany and France, wanting to maintain their own asylum policies,” he said.

What’s more, he said, central European countries had no desire to take on more migrants and preferred to let the frontline countries cope with the situation.

But he said for migrants the situation would only get worse if European countries did not start working together.

He said countries like Italy and Malta could stop accepting the migrants.

"They will react by sending these people back and possibly closing their borders," said Schweiger. "They will be criticized about this by the rest of the European Union.  But I think they have a point when they say, 'Well, you have no right no criticize us if you do not assist us in this difficult task.'"

The European Commission had criticized Malta for not accepting the North Africans who arrived off the country's coast on Sunday.

The EC said Malta had a duty to admit the passengers on humanitarian grounds.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid