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Letta calls for united European action on migration

Cooperation needed to settle newcomers, says Italian premier

13 January, 17:37
Letta calls for united European action on migration (ANSA) - Mexico City, January 13 - European Union countries must find a way to better cooperate on immigration issues rather than leaving individual nations to struggle on their own, Premier Enrico Letta said Monday during a State visit to Mexico.

The topic is of particular interest to Italy, where thousands of immigrants - many fleeing war and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East - land on the country's most southern shores each year.

Most arrive by boat and many die during the perilous crossing, while others are forced to live in desperate conditions in underfunded and inadequate migrant centres.

After a series of rescues and migrant crises in the fall, the European Union promised more help for Italy, often the first point of arrival for many migrants.

During an interview with Mexican television network Televisa, Letta said that Italy has learned from hard experience about the importance of "effective multilateral cooperation in a strong Europe that does not leave any country alone and on its own".

Letta also referred to strong words from Pope Francis when he visited the migrant centre on Italy's tiny island of Lampedusa in July and denounced "the globalisation of indifference" towards migrants who die trying to reach Italy.

In October alone, an estimated 400 refugees died off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa in two boat disasters.

Letta said that "the strong words of the Pope should prompt us to ensure that this issue will be addressed at the multilateral level".