Rome

Alfano calls for Europe's support with immigration

No crisis but still a serious problem, says interior minister

Alfano calls for Europe's support with immigration

Rome, July 3 - Statistics do not convey the immigration crisis that is facing Italy, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told a constitution affairs committee Tuesday. The rest of Europe must take note of what is happening in Italy, with the number of immigrants that flee their homes to land on Italy's southernmost shores, he said. The situation affects all of Europe, which must lend a hand, he added. In 2011, during the so-called Arab Spring, as many as 60,000 migrants arrived in Italy, said Alfano, a member of ex-premier Silvo Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party. Last year, the numbers dropped back to about 13,000, he noted. Italy is not facing an emergency situation but it also can't cope with the continual waves of immigration without help from other countries of Europe, he sad. Even as Alfano spoke, the Italian Navy announced that about 80 people were rescued from a raft that was adrift 80 miles off the coast of Lampedusa. Of the passengers, 10 are women, four of whom are pregnant, the Coast Guard said. The tiny island which is part of Sicily will host Pope Francis on his first trip outside the Rome area as pontiff Monday. He is scheduled to celebrate a mass at an immigration center that has been a constant source of overcrowding. Immigration from Northern Africa picks up in summer months as sea conditions improve. But many die while attempting the voyage, often in crammed and unsafe boats.

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