World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, the head of the ruling Democratic Party, on Friday said Italy should allow only a "fixed number" of migrants into the country as it grapples with a wave of people arriving by sea from North Africa.
"We have to save everyone, but we are not able to welcome everyone into Italy," he said.
Italy has been struggling to cope with an influx of migrants, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, a journey that has so far claimed more than 2,200 lives this year, UN figures show.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the country has accepted around 85,000 of the 100,000 people who have arrived this year.
The arrivals have revived fears of a return to the European Union's migrant crisis of 2015, when hundreds of thousands of people reached the continent in search of a better life.
The massive wave has also exacerbated tensions with neighbouring Austria, which this week threatened to send troops to its border with Italy to stop migrants entering.
Italy "does not have unlimited capacity" to welcome migrants, Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in Hamburg on Friday.
"I cannot come to terms with the fact that there are rescue operations in international (waters) and a uniquely national welcome".
On Thursday, EU interior ministers backed an urgent European Commission plan to help crisis-hit Italy, which earmarks 35 million euros ($40 million) in aid for Rome as well as proposals for working with Libya and other countries to stem the flow of migrants.
Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti, back in Rome after the EU meeting in Estonia's capital Tallinn, said he would "firmly" reiterate his push for other European countries to open their ports to rescue ships at a meeting in Warsaw at the EU's border agency Frontex next week.
In Hamburg, Renzi also warned that countries which fail to help with the migrant crisis "will suffer the consequences" in upcoming European Union budget negotiations.
Government data released Thursday showed that Italy has received 73,000 asylum applications since the start of the year -- an increase of 46 percent compared with the first six months of 2016.Last Mod: 08 Temmuz 2017, 12:31