Venerdì, 06 Dicembre 2019
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ROME

Renzi vows to capture merchants of human lives

English
© ANSA

Rome, April 20 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Monday
vowed to capture "merchants of human lives" after the weekend's
latest Mediterranean migrant-boat disaster in which as many as
900 people are feared to have died after putting their fates
into the hands of unscrupulous people traffickers who pushed
them out from the Libyan coast in an unstable craft.
As the EU called the tragedy "a game changer" that must
spur concerted action to share the burden and upgrade a border
patrol and rescue operation called Triton that has come in for
renewed criticism, Renzi ruled out putting boots on the ground
in Libya as "too risky" and stressed the importance of a
negotiated solution to unite warring factions there.
Meanwhile Italy received the backing of Germany, London and
Paris in its calls for the EU to do more.
Promising to continue a campaign against the traffickers,
Renzi said Italian law enforcement had arrested a total of 1,002
migrant smugglers so far.
"Another 24 people have been arrested today," he said.
"There is a criminal organization making loads of money and
ruining many lives. Our country can't allow commerce in human
lives and we will apprehend them".
Today's migrant smugglers are like the slavers of old,
Renzi went on.
"Three or four centuries ago, unscrupulous men traded in
human lives...exactly the same thing is happening now," he said.
Arresting people traffickers before or after they commit
their crimes must be made a "priority" for the international
community, he said.
The Italian premier ruled out the prospect of a military
intervention in Libya, where chaos has created fertile ground
for people traffickers.
"The hypothesis of a military intervention in Libya is not
on the table," Renzi said, adding that it's not possible to make
peace in the North African country with the use of force.
Ninety-one of every 100 migrants arriving in Italy come
from Libya, and stability in the war-torn North African nation
is the "first problem we must face", he said.
"There's a dinghy with 100-150 people on board 30 nautical
miles off Libya, and a larger vessel carrying 300," Renzi said,
adding reports have arrived of a third boat in distress.
The latest events show the Mediterranean is facing a
massive humanitarian crisis, Renzi said.
"What has been happened over the last few hours...is much
more than a shipwreck," Renzi told a joint news conference with
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
"We are faced with a serious humanitarian crisis, which
should be addressed as such...on the basis of humanitarian law,
which requires a solid response from the whole international
community.
An ongoing EU foreign ministers' meeting must show the
migrant emergency is "not just a problem for Malta or Italy,"
Renzi said.
"If they hold dear the destinies of human beings, they
cannot accept that they should be forced into atrocious deaths,
trapped in a cargo hold".
"Twenty years ago we looked the other way on (the)
Srebrenica (massacre of 1995)," Renzi said. "We can't do that
today...we must not let people be enslaved, we must not envisage
letting (human traffickers) win".
The men and women of Italian migrant rescue services are
showing that "generous, extraordinary Italy is doing its utmost
to save every single life," he added.
Anyone saving migrants from dying at sea deserves praise
not censure, he said.
"Those who are engaged in rescue operations deserve
recognition and not diatribes from heartless politicians
trawling for votes," Renzi said, mainly referring to Matteo
Salvini of the Northern League who has climbed up the polls with
anti-migrant talk and is currently advocating a "naval
blockade".
Italy and Malta are working side by side to save lives on
the Mediterranean, Renzi said.
"Cooperation with Malta has been excellent over the past
few hours," the premier said. "Past divergences between our
predecessors have been overcome and we are working side by
side....I thank the government of Malta for taking on the
remains of the first 24 (drowned migrants) and for the constant
management of the marine emergency".
In response to the disaster, European Council President
Donald Tusk convened an extraordinary summit on the migrant
crisis Thursday.
The situation in the Mediterranean is "dramatic," Tusk
said.
"We can't go on like this. We can't accept hundreds of
people dying as they cross the sea towards Europe. That's why I
decided to convene the extraordinary summit".
Tusk was speaking amid an extraordinary meeting of EU
foreign and interior ministers, which was presented with a
10-point plan from the European Commission to avert more
disasters.
The plan, "to be implemented immediately" includes
"reinforcing" Triton and destroying people smugglers' boats.
A UN mandate would be needed for such action, EU Foreign
Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini pointed out.
The plan also calls for European Asylum Support Office
(EASO) teams to be deployed in Italy and Greece - where many
refugees first make landfall - as well as a protocol for
voluntary relocation, more return flights to countries of origin
and beefing up border control in Niger.
The plan will be submitted to the emergency summit of EU
leaders Thursday.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the EU
must do its part to deal with the migrant crisis.
"Italy and Greece are bearing too much of the burden of the
immigrant emergency and I hope Europe will show solidarity with
these countries," he said.
Mogherini, called for building a "shared sense of European
responsibility on what happens in the Mediterranean".
"In front of the tragedies of recent days, months, and
years, the EU no longer has any alibi," she said.
"I hope that from this tragedy can come a true immigration
policy," she added, comparing her wish for EU policy integration
on immigration to the the increase in EU cooperation regarding
anti-terrorism following the terrorist attacks in Paris and
Tunis in January and March, respectively.
EU sources said "clear and substantive" moves were needed
and "pointing fingers" had to stop.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella, addressing the
speakers of European parliaments, said the EU must act to
prevent migrant disasters and international bodies must address
the crisis in countries of origin.
The EU "cannot shirk the test of hundreds of thousands of
refugees abandoning their homes to flee death," he said.
Mattarella also concurred with Greek counterpart Prokopis
Pavlopoulos in a phone call Monday that the EU must
"significantly" bolster its role in the management of migrant
flows from Africa to avert a recurrence of "dramas".
Meanwhile a Misrata municipality spokesperson told ANSA
Monday that Italy should negotiate with a self-declared Islamist
fundamentalist government in Tripoli "directly" if it is
"serious" about fighting people smugglers.
"It's difficult to control illegal emigration in the
unstable circumstances of southern Mediterranean countries,"
Ramadan Maiteeg said.
"So how is it possible to control it in Libya's situation?"
Libya's elected government fled to Tobruk after an Islamist
insurgency captured Tripoli last summer.

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