New migrant boat disaster off Lampedusa

Alfano says EU is not 'helping' Italy with crisis

(ANSA) - Rome, May 12 - A boat packed with migrants sank Monday about 100 miles off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, killing at least 14 while about 200 others were rescued, the Coast Guard said.
    The wreck follows a similar sinking off the coast of Libya on Sunday, in which as many as 40 European-bound migrants died. The European Union said Monday it was shocked by the latest migrant deaths over two days south of Italy and urged member states to "show solidarity" in dealing with the crisis. Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU's council of interior ministers would discuss the issue at its next meeting.
    Monday's sinking occurred near an offshore Libyan oil derrick after a nearby merchant ship was alerted to its unsafe conditions, officials said.
    In a program called Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), Italy has ramped up search-and-rescue missions around its sea boarders since last October when two wrecks off the coast of Sicily killed roughly 400 migrants. Italian Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano said the European Union isn't "helping" Italy sufficiently to cope with its migrant crisis.
    "Our ships were there to recover the dead and rescue survivors," he said in Bologna. "Europe is not helping us. It lets us accommodate the survivors", said Alfano. He added that Italy risks becoming "a prison for political refugees" if greater assistance is not guaranteed.
    Alfano has previously said that Europe will have to do more to support Italy, which is on the front lines of the sea arrivals of migrants.
    Italian Red Cross President Francesco Rocca called for the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" which he said was "urgently" needed in response to the sinkings.
    He called on greater support for rescue and resettlement efforts from the European Union.
    A similar plea came from Italy's Justice Minister Andrea Orlando who complained of a "cooperation deficit" at the EU and international level.
    "We await a strong signal," he added. "A leap forward is needed". Rome has also complained the EU is not doing enough to help Italy to police a key part of its southern border, which thousands of migrants from North Africa head for every year. Last week, as many as 1,000 migrants landed in Sicily, the latest arrivals adding to the total of about 30,000 rescued since the start of the Mare Nostrum operation, according to figures released last Wednesday by Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti.
    Most of them are from sub-Saharan Africa including war-torn countries like South Sudan, while an increasing number are from Syria and the Palestinian Territories.
    The interior ministry said earlier this month that 800,000 asylum seekers were "poised" to set off for Europe from North Africa.
    Issues around migration, including the rescue and care of illegal migrants, is a hot-button issue in Italy where last week a row erupted between the anti-immigrant Northern League and the interior ministry.