Ireland has offered to take in 10 asylum seekers from Italy. It is the first country to respond to Italy’s demand that the EU share responsibility for migrants.
Ireland has announced that it will take responsibility for 10 migrants from Italy, where large numbers of people have arrived in recent weeks.
Italy has repeatedly asked the other European member states to help to manage the increased numbers of migrants after around 2,200 people arrived on the island of Lampedusa from Tunisia and Libya in the space of a few days.
"We are assisting Italy by accepting 10 people as a voluntary gesture of solidarity," a spokesperson for the Irish permanent representation to the EU told the news agency, AFP.
The European Commission confirmed that Ireland was the first EU country to respond to requests to take in arrivals from the latest groups to land in Italy. "Discussions are ongoing, and we encourage member states to show solidarity and participate in relocation efforts," a Commission spokesperson told AFP.
A number of EU countries agreed in 2019 under the "Malta Agreement" to share responsibility for processing the asylum claims of migrants arriving in Italy or Malta. The Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, wants EU partners to revive the agreement. He said talks were underway with Germany and France over the issue.
Austria confirmed last week that it was not willing to accept transfers of the migrants from Lampedusa. A "distribution all over Europe" was not the solution, the Austrian Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler said.
So far this year, about 13,300 irregular migrants have arrived in Italy by sea – many more than in the same period in 2020 (4,300 people) and 2019 (1,200 people).
The Central Mediterranean remains one of the world's most dangerous migration routes. According to the UN migration agency (IOM), more than 550 people have died in crossings from North Africa to Italy and Malta since the start of 2021.