Germany reinstates commitment to accept migrants from Italy
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany has decided to keep taking in migrants and refugees arriving in Italy, the interior minister said late on Friday, two days after it announced the suspension of a voluntary agreement with Rome to receive new arrivals.
Under an European Union solidarity scheme, Germany had pledged to help member states such as Italy that are particularly overwhelmed by migrants by taking in 3,500 people, but it announced the suspension of the accord on Wednesday.
It said Rome was not honouring its obligations under the EU's so-called Dublin rules to process asylum applications in the EU country of first arrival.
But interior minister Nancy Faeser said the recent arrival of thousand of migrants in the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa meant Germany would take in people after all.
"The reason we have suspended the procedure .... is that Italy has shown no willingness whatsoever to take back people under the Dublin procedure. Now it's of course clear that we will meet our obligation of solidarity," Faeser told German broadcaster ARD. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called on Friday for the EU to act jointly "with a naval mission if necessary" to prevent migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.
She promised tough action in response to the surge in migrant arrivals this week in Lampedusa, where the landing of 7,000 migrants triggered appeals for help from local politicians.
The Italian Coast Guard found a newborn baby dead on a boat carrying migrants to the island during a rescue operation, ANSA news agency reported on Saturday.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Helen Popper)