Britain to support Italy intelligence effort on migrants

Italian Prime Minister Renzi speaks next his British counterpart Cameron during an event at the Milan Expo 2015 global fair in Milan. (Reuters)

Britain is to provide staff and other support for an Italian intelligence unit working on moves to resolve Europe’s migration crisis, Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday.

Speaking after a working lunch with Italian premier Matteo Renzi at the World Expo, Cameron said the two countries agreed on the need for a “comprehensive” approach to a crisis which has caused a deepening rift between Italy and its EU partners.

Britain is one of the countries refusing to have anything to do with proposals to ease the strains caused by unprecedented numbers of migrants arriving by sea in Italy and Greece by distributing 40,000 refugees around Europe over the next two years.

But Cameron insisted Britain was doing its bit through the operation of Royal Navy ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean and by increasing aid to countries in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, where many of the 220,000 migrants who have landed in Italy in the last 18 months originate.

“We need a comprehensive approach that sees a new government in Libya, that goes after the criminal gangs and where we work with you (Italy) and your intelligence fusion cell in Sicily where we will be putting in people and resources,” Cameron said.

“We need a comprehensive approach to every aspect of this, particularly trying to break the link between taking people off boats in the Mediterranean and getting settlement in Europe.”

Renzi, who is under growing domestic pressure over the migrant issue and a perception that Italy has been abandoned by its neighbors, welcomed Cameron’s emphasis on the need for concerted international action.

“We know there are different approaches in the European Union but I think we have the same values (and agree) this problem is a European problem,” he said. “It is not only an Italian problem.”

He added that there was “a fundamental convergence of views that this problem has to be solved at its roots, in Africa”.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47