Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 August 2019

EU should charter flights to carry migrants, says Italian minister

Enzo Moavero Milanesi says refugees should be distributed within the bloc by 'objective criteria'

Pictured from left to right are Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament; Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Italy’s Foreign Minister; and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. AFP
Pictured from left to right are Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament; Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Italy’s Foreign Minister; and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. AFP

Italy’s foreign minister on Sunday suggested that the European Union should charter flights for migrants to counter the continent’s refugee crisis.

Asylum applications should be filed at EU centres outside the bloc and those who are deemed eligible flown into member states by chartered flight, Enzo Moavero Milanesi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Being flown in means migrants will bypass traffickers and dangerous sea journeys, Mr Milanesi said.

“Those who have the right to asylum must be able to travel in dignified conditions, not in the hands of criminals,” he said.

“Migrants are not looking for Italian, Greek or Maltese shores. They are looking for Europe. Therefore, we must find a solution within a European framework.”

Mr Milanesi said that refugees should be distributed within the EU based on “objective and clear criteria”, but the system would only work if enough EU countries agreed to join in.

He said such states could strengthen their ties if they united to fight trafficking of migrants.

Other European countries, such as Germany, have called for an EU migrant redistribution “coalition”.

On Saturday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that his country would be happy to make a significant contribution to the alliance and accept a set share of refugees as part of a “binding” redistribution system, RND media group reported.

But Mr Maas’s proposals were immediately rejected by Austrian former chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who said such quotas were a hackneyed idea.

Mr Kurz said that “the distribution of migrants across Europe had failed”.

Since far-right populist Matteo Salvini became Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister last year, the Mediterranean country has shut its ports to migrant rescue ships.

Mr Salvini’s policies include being able to evict people from refugee centres and dismantle integration projects.

In February, Oxfam and 49 other major charities accused EU governments of being complicit in the deaths of more than 5,300 people crossing the sea from Libya for Italy.

Updated: July 15, 2019 09:00 AM

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