EU Interior Ministers began a meeting in Brussels Thursday to discuss the influx of migrants from Northern Africa to Europe, especially Italy.
“What is happening in the Mediterranean is not only a problem for Italy. It’s a problem for Europe and the world. We are in front of an humanitarian emergency. We cannot be left alone. This is our request,” Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told journalists before the start of the meeting.
He estimated that one million refugees could flee to Europe from North Africa due to the current unrest.
For her part, Austrian Interior Minister Maria Theresia Fekter said “Austria is much smaller than Italy and we normally have a long tradition in humanitarian aid and in the European figures we are one of the big five in asylum who are helping the people.”
“And we think that 5.000 in Lampedusa is a figure of person which Italy can handle alone,” she added.
About 5000 Tunisians arrived recently on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The EU ministers will also look at the state of play on three other issues, the implementation of Greece’s National Action Plan on Migration Management and Asylum Reform, the EU-Turkey readmission agreement on illegal immigrants and the process of accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the visa-free Schengen area.
The EU Interior Ministers will also later today have exchange of views with the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonion Guterres.