ANKARA (AA) – France will only accept politically persecuted people and not simply irregular immigrants, the interior minister has announced.
“France will help Italy protect its borders to prevent more people from coming,” Gerald Darmanin told broadcaster Europe 1, about the latest migration flow to Italy’s Lampedusa island.
“For those who have arrived, we must implement the most recent European rules that we adopted months ago, which require asylum applications to be made at the border,” the French minister explained.
He said those who are eligible for asylum, including those who were persecuted for political reasons, would be welcomed.
The minister added that it would be a mistake to believe that “migrants should be distributed in all European countries simply because they arrive in Europe.”
“If it is just an irregular immigration, France cannot welcome those people …” Darmanin said, adding, “Our will is to welcome those who need to, the ones who are politically persecuted, but we must send back those who have nothing to do in Europe.”
Approximately 11,000 irregular migrants arrived on the island of Lampedusa from Africa to Europe through irregular migration routes in the Central Mediterranean over the past week, creating a critical situation on the island.
On Sunday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled a 10-point action plan for dealing with the influx of migrants on Lampedusa during her visit to the island.
As of Friday, 127,207 migrants had reached Italy since the beginning of the year, or almost double the number in the same period last year. The peak in migrants’ arrivals was reached in 2016, with 180,000 recorded entries.