5,900 from Mediterranean rescued in a weekend

Updated: 2015-06-08 09:46


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5,900 from Mediterranean rescued in a weekend

Migrants rest after disembarking from the expedition vessel Phoenix in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, Italy, June 7, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Roberto Maroni, the League's president of the northern Lombardy region, which includes the financial capital Milan, said he would refuse to shelter more migrants, and that he would cut regional funding to cities that agreed to host them.

But Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Maroni, a former interior and labour minister, was partly responsible for locking Italy into an unfair European Union treaty that requires asylum seekers to ask for refuge in the country where they first enter the bloc.

EU interior ministers are due to discuss a European Commission plan on June 16 to disperse 40,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece to other member states, and to bolster the enforcement of the treaty that Renzi wants changed.

"It's unthinkable to continue to bring them all (migrants) to Italy," Renzi told reporters at a Group of Seven summit in Kruen, Germany. "There is an immigration problem. To tackle it, we need the strength and courage to make ourselves heard at European meetings."

The turmoil in Libya, which has become one of the main transit routes to Europe, is giving free rein to people smugglers.

During the first five months of the year, there were 46,500 sea arrivals into Italy, a 12 percent increase on the same period of last year, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said. Italy's government projects that 200,000 in all will come this year, up from 170,000 in 2014.