Italy’s Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is seeking help from the European Union to stem the flow of migrants. He also used the occasion of last week’s EU summit to call for an EU mission to Niger to help patrol the country’s border with Libya and to start redistribution of asylum seekers across the EU. He said he was “touched, satisfied and proud” that Italy became a country that “gave an exemplary response to human trafficking, that obtained important results and that must be sustained politically and financially.”
Previously, Italy had been the main target of criticism due to its treatment of refugees but the improvement came thanks to the deal with Tripoli in which Brussels offered the country €200 million to better police its borders, something that was first laughable that it was in fact possible when it was first proposed but “Italy showed by its actions it was possible”, Mr. Gentiloni said. As a result of the deal, the migratory flows to Italy through the central Mediterranean route Agadez-Sicily fell by 38% in one year. The recorded arrivals on the country’s shores had been going up dramatically until July 2017, when they suddenly dropped.
The EU’s deal with Libya raised concerns as to whether the North African country would be able to deal with a growing flow of asylum seekers and migrants at its shores. Since then, the bloc has been discussing the need to finance the African trust fund to help the affected countries to address the root causes of migration by boosting growth and employment in these countries. According to Rome though, the EU’s offer has been limited and needs to be strengthened to become truly effective.