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  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Rome, Italy August 2, 2019.

    European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Rome, Italy August 2, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 August 2019

The head of the European Commission (EC) proposed an "effective and human" pact on migration and asylum.

The elected president of the European Commission (EC) Ursula von der Leyen announced Friday that she will propose to the European Union (EU), a new pact on migration after Italy and Malta made the decision to close their ports to force the relocation of migrants in Europe.

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"I want to propose a new pact on migration and asylum because I think we need a new and fresh view and start on migration. We know that migration will not go away, it is inherent, a globalized world," Von der Leyen said at a press conference held after a meeting with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome.

She hopes the EU countries reach an effective agreement, which entails an adequate distribution of responsibilities among Italy, Spain, Greece and other countries most geographically exposed to migratory flows.

"What we do need are procedures that are effective and human at the same time. I know it will not be an easy task to tackle but we all have learnt that there is no simple solution and no simple answer to this."

The Italian PM advocated reviewing the Dublin system, which states which country is responsible for processing asylum applications, so that migrants could be welcomed by all EU members and not only the southern countries.

"We also need to adjust the Dublin Treaty more adequately and manage migration flows more effectively. It is unthinkable that the problem remains on the shoulders of the countries of first arrival, as still happens," Conte said and stressed the need to simultaneously curb the citizens' "distrust and disappointment" in EU institutions.

In recent years, the governments of Italy and Greece have imposed hard measures to contain the arrival of African migrants to their territories.

Currently, due to the "Closed Ports" policy imposed by the Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salivini, the rescue vessel Alan Kurdi — which is owned by the German NGO Sea-Eye — cannot disembark 40 shipwrecks at the Lampedusa port, among whom are three children and a pregnant woman.

In addition, in the last two days, the Open Arms organization assisted 124 African migrants whose lives were at risk in the Mediterranean Sea. They also do not have permission to disembark in any port.

Amid this new European ideological environment, which is increasingly hostile to non-white migrants, Greece's government announced on July 30 that a zeppelin will be deployed to detect those who try to enter its territory.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hopes to decongest Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Leros and Kos, which are five Aegean islands where authorities keep more than 16,000 asylum seekers in "camps."

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