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French interior minister visits Rome to discuss migration

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is visiting Rome today. He intends to discuss migration amid mass arrivals on the Italian island of Lampedusa, AFP reported.

In an interview with Europe1 broadcaster, Darmanin has stated France wants to “help Italy protect its borders” as one of the main countries in the European Union where migrants from North Africa are coming in.

Darmanin’s administration said he would meet with Matteo Piantedosi, his Italian counterpart.

About 8,500 people arrived on Lampedusa on 199 boats between today and Wednesday last week, according to the International Organisation for Migration. That prompted Ursula von der Leyen to travel to the island on Sunday to announce an emergency action plan.

The mass resettlement of migrants has ignited a debate in France. Political parties in the country’s parliament are now arguing over a bill regulating newcomers.

There cannot be the message to people arriving on our (European) shores that they will be welcomed whatever happens.

Darmanin announced his intention to demonstrate a firm position in Rome.

“We have to apply European rules” on receiving people and distributing them among EU member states after Germany suspended transfers of migrants from Italy over alleged breaches by Rome.”

The minister also outlined his position on political refugees:

If there are asylum seekers eligible for asylum, who are persecuted for political reasons, of course they are refugees. And in those cases, France… as it has always done, can welcome those people.

However, he noted that about “60 per cent” of migrants come from countries with no humanitarian issues. He cited Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and the Gambia as examples.

“We have to protect the EU’s external borders and, above all, look into asylum requests immediately, and send people back to their country when they’re not eligible.”

Pope Francis is expected to urge France to be more tolerant of migrants. The pontiff will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Marseille and celebrate Mass for tens of thousands of people in a stadium.

Yesterday, Francis called for “putting human dignity and real people first, especially those most in need.”


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