Ireland to take 10 migrants from Italy as gesture of 'solidarity'

Ireland is the first EU nation to respond to requests to take in arrivals from the latest wave

File photo: Migrants warmed by emergency blankets arrive on a boat of the Italian Guardia Di Finanza law enforcement agency on May 17, 2021 to disembark on the southern Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa. AFP
File photo: Migrants warmed by emergency blankets arrive on a boat of the Italian Guardia Di Finanza law enforcement agency on May 17, 2021 to disembark on the southern Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa. AFP

Ireland said on Monday that it would accept 10 migrants from Italy, in the first response by an EU country to Rome's call for help after more than 2,000 landed on its shores.

"We are assisting Italy by accepting 10 people as a voluntary gesture of solidarity," a spokesman for the Irish permanent representation to the EU told AFP.

The European Commission confirmed Ireland was the first EU nation to respond to requests to take in arrivals from the latest influx in Italy.

"Discussions are ongoing and we encourage member states to show solidarity and participate in relocation efforts," a spokesman for the EU executive said.

Migration returned to the top of the political agenda in Italy a week ago after 2,200 asylum-seekers arrived on its tiny island of Lampedusa from Tunisia and Libya in a few days.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi is pushing EU partners to revive migrant deals as it seeks to avoid a summer surge in landings from North Africa.

Mr Draghi said "active talks are ongoing with Germany and France to revive" the Malta agreement, under which some EU countries agreed in 2019 to share responsibility for migrants who arrived in Italy or Malta.

So far this year, about 13,300 migrants have landed on Italy's shores.

It was an increase from about 4,300 and 1,200 who arrived by sea during the same period in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

At the same time, the central Mediterranean is one of the world's deadliest migration routes.

It is patrolled by a few charity rescue ships, who say that EU authorities are not doing enough to help their cause.

The International Organisation for Migration, a UN agency, said more than 550 people have died in crossings from North Africa to Italy and Malta since the start of 2021.

More on migration

Europe-bound migrants drown off Tunisia

Turkey-style deal for Libya to stop migration to Europe 'not feasible'

Greece tells EU border police: work outside Europe's waters to stop migration

Updated: May 18, 2021 12:00 AM

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