News / Europe

    Italy Seeks EU Assistance to Deal With Refugee Influx

    Would-be migrants believed to be from Tunisia are seen on the shores of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, after arriving there by boat, February 11, 2011
    Would-be migrants believed to be from Tunisia are seen on the shores of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, after arriving there by boat, February 11, 2011

    The Italian government is seeking help from European Union member states to deal with an influx of refugees as the wave of unrest spreads in North Africa.  Some European agencies estimate that as many as 1.5 million refugees could come to Italy to escape the turmoil in their home countries.  European states are divided on how to deal with the problem.

    Hoping to escape the chaos from the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, boatloads of illegal immigrants battle the choppy waters of the Mediterranean Sea looking for safe harbor.

    Italy's Guardia di Finanza, which normally patrol these waters for drug smugglers, says more than 6,000 refugees have already been detained in the island of Lampedusa, about 120 kilometers from Tunisia.

    At a meeting of European interior ministers in Belgium Thursday, Italian Minister Roberto Maroni predicted more would arrive soon.

    "The invasion of one million to 1.5 million refugees in Italy, to take estimates by Frontex [EU border protection agency] yesterday, would bring any state to its knees," he said.

    Maroni wants the EU to establish a solidarity fund to assist countries that are the first to absorb the influx of refugees.

    The ministers welcome the spirit of democracy sweeping through North Africa, but they are split on how to deal with the consequences.

    Germany and Austria believe the estimates are exaggerated but Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Rubalcaba says a unified response is needed.

    "What we cannot do is to think that the migrants who arrived in Italy this week, arrived in Italy," he said.  "No, they arrived in Europe, because Italy is a gateway to Europe and that's why we need to approach this problem together because this is a problem we all share."

    The unrest spreading throughout the Arab world is bound to have significant economic implications for the region.  But speaking in Washington Wednesday, Tunisia's newly appointed central bank governor, Mustapha Nabli, said Europe stands to benefit from the wave of new workers.

    "We have looked at the numbers and there is a good match actually in terms of demographics for Europe to absorb significant numbers of laborers from North Africa," he said.  "So it is a positive sum game, it is not a negative sum game."

    Ministers argue additional manpower and space will be required to deal with the mass exodus. There is also fear the tubulence could create an opening for terrorist groups.

    But many of the migrants say all they seek is liberty and the chance for a better life.  One Tunisian man said he paid 500 euro for a 15-hour journey in a small boat crammed with 200 migrants.

    "We are searching for freedom and to integrate into the society," he said. "We are not terrorists or thieves. We are people looking for a better life."

    Many will not have that chance.  Migrants who arrived in Lampedusa, Italy illegally are being detained in temporary compounds before they are slowly returned to their homes.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora