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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora