Migrant crisis deepens in Italy, interior minister urges EU response
Updated: 2015-06-16 10:35
A man fishes from his boat as a group of migrants gather on the seawall at the Saint Ludovic border crossing on the Mediterranean Sea between Ventimiglia, Italy and Menton, France, in this June 14, 2015 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
The Italian center-left government led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has repeatedly called on European authorities to help cope with the deepening migrant crisis.
The countless arrivals of migrants via Mediterranean Sea, many of which fleeing from poverty stricken nations of Syria, Somalia, Eritrea and Nigeria, has brought Italy's overcrowded refugee centers to their knees.
There is also concern raised by the local press about security linked to the Islamic terrorist threat as well as diseases imported from Africa. Dozens of migrants have been diagnosed with scabies or other illnesses over the past weeks.
The Italian interior ministry has said that as many as 200,000 migrants could land in Italy for 2015 overall, well above last year's 170,000. Meanwhile the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has estimated that more than 1,800 migrants have lost their lives at sea so far this year.
In the past days, groups of migrants have slept outside the Milan railway station, prompting local authorities to put in place emergency measures.
"Last night 1,350 migrants, mainly from Syria and Eritrea, slept in nine refugee centers in Milan," spokeswoman for Milan's department of social affairs Gabriella Polifroni told Xinhua on Monday.
She said at least 65,000 migrants, including many children and women, have passed through the Milan railway station over the past 20 months. "They land in Italy but want to reach northern European countries," she explained to Xinhua.
Polifroni noted that a number of Milan citizens have helped manage the surge of migrants, also donating food and staples to them. Yet it is not enough for an emergency that she underlined needs urgent response at the national and international level.