European Union countries failed to reach an agreement on how the 40,000 new refugees arriving in Italy and Greece should be equally split up among the 28-nation coalition to ease the burden on the two southern countries.
“European Union nations failed to bridge differences Tuesday over an emergency plan to share the burden of the thousands of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea, while on the French-Italian border, police in riot gear forcibly removed dozens of migrants,” reports The Associated Press (AP).
So far this year, an estimated 100,000 migrants have reportedly made it to Europe, with about 2,000 dead or missing during their dangerous journey to enter the continent.
EU interior ministers discussed the refugee crisis in Luxembourg.
“There is a divergence of views on this matter. There is no common view on whether it should be voluntary or compulsory,” Rihards Kozlovskis, the interior minister of Latvia, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said after the Luxembourg talks.
“We know that there is significant resistance in some member states to an obligatory measure,” added Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, speaking from Berlin.
AP reports that no other alternatives were presented during the Luxembourg discussions.
EU leaders are expected to discuss the plan in Brussels on June 25-26. Interior ministers will once again hold talks on the issue during their meeting in July.
“Hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, including women and children, protested Monday on the eastern Greek island of Lesvos, demanding better living conditions, the faster processing of their registration, and to be housed separately from Afghan arrivals after a fight broke out in one of the island’s camps,” notes AP.
“Lesvos has been bearing the brunt of a huge influx of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa crossing from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands,” it continues. “More than 50,000 migrants have arrived in Greece already this year, compared to 6,500 in the first five months of last year.”
On Tuesday, Italian police along the country’s border with France removed African migrants who had been living in camps for days in hopes of continuing their journey up north.
“Some migrants protested, grabbing onto signposts, while others had to be carried off by their legs and arms — a violent scene underlining Italy’s contention that the rest of Europe must do more to deal with the migrant crisis,” reports AP. “Migrants on dangerous rocks jutting out into the sea were left alone.”