VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers (all times local):
Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has rescued three migrants from a deflated rubber boat that is believed to have set sail from Morocco with 52 people aboard.
The service said Tuesday the three young men from sub-Saharan countries were rescued close to Spain’s western Mediterranean island of Alboran, located between Spain and Morocco. It says it has been searching for the boat since Sunday.
The survivors said they had been adrift for several days.
One rescue boat is continuing the search for more survivors.
So far this year, aid agencies say at least 2,169 migrants have died trying to reach Europe from North Africa in small and often unseaworthy smugglers’ boats.
The European Union’s executive is pressing for more urgent help to alleviate the pressure on Italy as it struggles to take in and process tens of thousands of desperate migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.
The Commission said it will mobilize at least 80 million euros ($90 million) for projects in Libya and Italy to stem the relentless flow of migrants seeking to make the dangerous crossing. And it called on countries in the 28-nation bloc to do more to help Italy by accepting more migrants for relocation and by giving more money for an EU-Africa fund to cut down on immigration.
Figures show that by Monday, 85,183 migrants had reached Italian shores after being rescued in the central Mediterranean, compared with 71,279 at this time last year.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says “the urgency of the situation now requires us to seriously accelerate our collective work and not leave Italy on its own.”
Italy’s foreign ministry has summoned Austria’s ambassador to Italy, Rene Pollitzer, for consultations after Vienna said it was considering imposing border controls to prevent migrants arriving in Italy from entering its territory.
The ministry said Tuesday that it made the diplomatic move “following the declarations of the Austrian government about the lining up of troops at the Brenner Pass.”
The Brenner Pass is one of the principal routes connecting Italy with northern Europe and is particularly heavily used during the summer vacation season. Austrian officials earlier said they are ready to deploy armored vehicles to the border crossing to prevent a migrant spillover into Austria.
Austria last year threatened to build a wall along the border with Italy, drawing similar protests from Italy.
Pope Francis is encouraging a new EU-financed information portal on Europe’s migration crisis, saying such initiatives should help integrate migrants, foster dialogue and promote peace.
Francis sent a message of appreciation to Italian news agency ANSA, which is partnering with France Medias Monde and Germany’s Deutsche Welle on the project. Infomigrants.net describes itself as an information portal aimed at migrants “to counter misinformation at every point of their journey,” since they are often duped by smugglers. It is published in French, Arabic and English.
Francis said Tuesday he appreciated all initiatives “that wisely open themselves to the complex migration phenomenon.” He said he hoped the site would encourage integration and help create “a renewed commitment for an authentic culture of welcome and solidarity.”
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz says his country is ready to “protect” its borders with Italy amid growing concerns that the influx of migrants into Italy could soon result in a spillover into his country.
Kurz spoke to the Austria Press Agency Tuesday amid preparations to tighten border controls.
Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil says his ministry is ready to deploy armored vehicles to the Brenner border crossing between the two countries within 72 hours. Ministry spokesmen on Tuesday dismissed reports that the vehicles already are at Brenner, the main crossing from Italy.
Officials say there has been no upsurge in migrant entries. But Kurz says both Italy and the European Union need to know that “we are ready to protect our Brenner border if necessary.”
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