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France “will not welcome migrants who come from Lampedusa”, says Darmanin

France “will not welcome migrants” from the Italian island of Lampedusa, subject for several days to a significant migratory influx, declared this Tuesday the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, displaying the “firmness” of the government in the material.

“France wants a firm position,” insisted the minister, invited on the TF1 set. The case of asylum seekers, for example for political reasons, is of course different, conceded Gérald Darmanin, who however minimized their presence among the migrants disembarked in Lampedusa.

“It is not by welcoming more people that we are going to dry up a flow which obviously affects our integration capacities,” he continued. “On the other hand, we told our Italian friends that we were ready to help them to return people to countries with which we have good diplomatic relations,” added Gérald Darmanin, citing Ivory Coast and Senegal.

Strengthening border controls

The minister was speaking the day after a visit to his transalpine counterpart in Rome, while Italy is facing a significant acceleration in the arrival of migrants on the island of Lampedusa, located between Tunisia and Sicily. Between last Monday and Wednesday, around 8,500 people, more than the entire population of Lampedusa, arrived on 199 boats, according to the United Nations migration agency.

This situation has put the island’s reception capacities under great strain, generated a political shock wave in Italy and relaunched the thorny question of European solidarity in terms of reception and distribution of asylum seekers, for support countries on the front line of these arrivals.

On the subject of asylum seekers, Gérald Darmanin admitted that it was necessary to “distinguish” their situation from that of the majority of migrants, while passing this responsibility on to the Italian authorities. “If people are eligible for asylum, (if) they are persecuted sexually, politically, religiously, obviously it is the duty of France like other European countries to welcome them,” he recognized.

But he downplayed the presence of asylum seekers among Lampedusa’s migrants, saying the majority of them were not fleeing persecution. “They are not Afghans, they are not Syrians,” he insisted. The minister also announced that he had decided to “strengthen” controls at the Franco-Italian border: the number of police and gendarmerie dedicated to this task will increase from 500 to 700, he said.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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