Italy’s populist government has rejected the European Union’s (EU) latest migration plan, refusing to take in illegal migrants travelling by sea, as Libya rejects processing centres inside its borders.
The developments represent a major setback for the bloc, which recently agreed to create “disembarkation platforms” outside the EU to process migrants after Italy closed its ports to NGO ships ferrying illegal migrants over the sea from smuggler boats near the African coast.
“Italy does not want to be the only country where migrants… disembark,” Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi wrote in a letter to EU foreign policy boss Federica Mogherini, adding that European leaders should persuade the countries the migrants come from to stop them embarking in the first place.
Meanwhile, Fayez al-Sarraj, the Libyan prime minister, rejected the bloc’s proposal for asylum processing centres in his country.
“We are strictly against Europe officially placing illegal migrants who are no longer wanted in the EU in our country,” he blasted.
Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia have already been asked by the EU to host such centres, and have all refused.
French Newspaper Claims as Many as One Million Illegal Migrants in Libya https://t.co/DeycuzcKSS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 30, 2018
“We also won’t agree on any deals with EU money about taking in more illegal migrants,” the Libyan premier added, speaking to Germany’s Bild newspaper.
The EU claims it will use the centres to distinguish between illegal economic migrants and genuine asylum seekers, but critics say they will act as a pull factor result in more people being given a free ride to Europe.
Al-Sarraj also dismissed recent allegations that Libya’s coastguard had shot at aid workers in ships trying to rescue people from the Mediterranean.
“We save hundreds of people off the coast of Libya every day – our ships are constantly on the move,” he said.