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  4. Meloni, von der Leyen pledge action on migrants in Lampedusa

Meloni, von der Leyen pledge action on migrants in Lampedusa

Emergency could hit the whole EU warns premier, EC chief presents 10-point plan

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 17 - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni visited Lampedusa on Sunday after the latter invited the former to the island to see for herself the scale of the migrant emergency.
    The leaders went to Lampedusa's migrant hotspot and the island's Favaloro quay, where many migrant boats from North Africa land each day. Meloni has said the surge in migrant arrivals has put Italy under "unsustainable pressure".
    Around 127,000 migrants have entered Italy so far this year, approximately twice as many as in the same period in 2022.
    Many of them enter via Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island.
    There were moments of tension when a group local people staged a protest that blocked the way of the convey taking Meloni and von der Leyen from the island's airport to its migrant hotspot.
    Meloni told them that "we are doing everything we can" and stressed that she had "shown up in person" to face the emergency.
    Talks calmed the situation and the locals to cleared the road.
    "If anyone thought that, in the face of the current global crisis, this issue would go away, they were mistaken," Meloni told a news conference.
    "With this level of (migrant) flows, if we do not all work together, the border states will be affected first and then everyone else will.
    "It is a problem that involves everyone and must be tackled by everyone.
    "The presence of von der Leyen (here) is a sign of awareness".
    She reiterated her view that the only way to address the migrant emergency is to halt flows at the source, rather than trying to redistribute the migrants who arrive. "I keep saying that, faced with these (migrant) flows, we will never solve the problem by talking about redistribution," Meloni said.
    "The only way to seriously tackle the problem is to stop illegal departures.
    "This is what the citizens are asking us for, but so are the refugees".
    She also that greater involvement of the United Nations in facing the migrant emergency is "absolutely necessary".
    Both Meloni, whose cabinet is set to approve extraordinary measures on the migrant emergency on Monday, and von der Leyen will take part in the UN General Assembly in new York this week.
    Von der Leyen, meanwhile, presented a 10-point action plan to address the migrant emergency.
    "Italy can count on the EU," von der Leyen told the press conference.
    "It is very important to be here today together with the Italian authorities. "Migration is a European challenge that requires a European answer and solution. "It is concrete actions that will bring change on the ground.
    "It is only through solidarity and unity that we can achieve this".
    The 10-point plan includes a possible new EU naval mission in the Mediterranean, faster repatriations of people whose asylum claims have been rejected and humanitarian corridors for legal arrivals.
    "We will decide who arrives in Europe, not the traffickers," von der Leyen added. (ANSA).


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