Italy mulls over shutting down its ports to rescue migrants ships coming from Libya

The Topaz Responder ship run by Maltese NGO Moas and the Italian Red Cross takes part in a rescue operation of migrants and refugees off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo: AFP / Andreas Solaro

The Italian government is considering banning ships from Libya from landing at its ports after the arrival of nearly 11,000 refugees from there in the past five days, according to a report by The Guardian.

It has been reported that the government has given its ambassador to the EU, Maurizio Massari, a mandate to raise the issue formally with the European commission to seek permission for a drastic revision of EU asylum procedures, the report says.

One idea being discussed is denying docking privileges to ships not carrying Italian flags that seek to land in Italian ports, mainly in Sicily or Calabria, the Guardian adds.

The surge in the number of refugees reaching Italy prompted the interior minister, Marco Minniti, to fly back en route to Washington to address the crisis. An intense debate has raged in Italy about whether NGOs waiting to rescue people off Libyan coastal waters act as an incentive for people-smugglers, it also says.

The centre-right fared well in local government elections at the weekend, placing pressure on the left coalition government ahead of elections due by next year, the Guardian indicates.

Both Germany and France have said Italy, after the closure of the Turkey route, has been left alone to fend with the refugee crisis for too long. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is proposing a Compact for Africa at the G20 designed to boost private sector investment in the continent, and reduce the incentive for Africans to try to migrate to Europe to escape poverty, according to the report.

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