France will only accept people facing political persecution and not irregular immigrants, Anadolu news agency has reported.
“France will help Italy protect its borders to prevent more people from coming,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told Europe 1 on Monday. “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.”
He said that 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.”
France, he insisted, cannot welcome irregular migrants. “Our will is to welcome those who need to [be in Europe], the ones who are politically persecuted, but we must send back those who have nothing to do in Europe.”
Darmanin is set to visit Italy today, where approximately 11,000 irregular migrants have arrived on the island of Lampedusa from Africa via irregular migration routes in the Central Mediterranean over the past week. The situation on the island is said to be “critical”.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled a 10-point action plan on Sunday for dealing with the influx of migrants on Lampedusa during her own visit to the island.
If the current trend continues, the number of seaborne migrants arriving in Italy will set a new high this year. As of Friday, 127,207 migrants have landed in Italy since the beginning of 2023, almost double the number in the same period last year. The peak in migrants’ arrivals was reached in 2016, with 180,000 recorded entries.