Why this story matters:
Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini's decision to close Italian ports to the Aquarius, a boat well-known for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean sea, increased tensions with Malta earlier in the week. Now it has caused sparks between Italy and France -- and raised some questions at home about France's inaction.
Even if this lack of action seems totally inhuman, it is also the natural result of years of French and European immigration policy. Despite being a major member of the EU, France has not helped Italy much on this issue.
Since Monday June 11, French activists, politicians and ordinary citizens have been wondering why President Macron remained silent after the media published the story of the 600 migrants on the Aquarius.
But faced with the President's inaction, the French island of Corsica, surprisingly, has stepped forward. Led by the President of the Executive Council of Corsica, Gilles Simeoni, Corsicans have offered to welcome the Aquarius's migrants.
This offer may not need to be accepted though, as Spain has begun operations to allow the passengers to disembark in Valencia.
Political choice or humane proposition? It doesn't really matter in the end. It only shows one thing: avoiding responsibility and leaving migrants at the mercy of individual countries volunteering to help is not a long term solution. The EU is sorely in need of a common strategy on migration.
Details from the story:
- Between June 9-10, Italy decided to close its ports to the Aquarius.
- The Aquarius is a well-known boat, owned by the NGO SOS Méditerranée. Its aim is to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean sea.
- The Aquarius wanted to land, as usual, in Italy, with more than 600 migrants, among them pregnant women and children.
- Italy's decision has been seen as inhuman by the French government and the majority.
- Some politicians from the majority have been criticizing the French position, asking the government to welcome these migrants.
- Corsican leaders declared they would welcome the Aquarius in their ports. Corsica is one of the 18 regions of France.
- Spain also offered to help the Aquarius.
- For now, President Macron has remained silent about this issue.
- France and Italy have been criticizing each other all week. France claimed Italy was cruel and iresponsible, while Italy declared France should welcome the Aquarius.
- Spain has begun proceedures to take in the migrants.