Italy has stepped up its campaign against illegal immigration by sending more boat people back to Libya. The group, more than 160-strong, were picked up in the seas off Lampedusa, the Italian island targeted by migrants in their attempts to reach Europe.
The law says immigrants must be at least temporarily accepted if they reach Italian territory. But Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi insisted the latest group were picked up in international waters.
“We have to welcome people who meet the conditions for political asylum,” he said. “But we have to accept only those found on Italian soil, or in our seas.”
It is the second time in three days that Italy has sent boat people back to Libya, under a deal linked to aid payments. Critics say it violates international law and puts lives at risk. The Vatican said migrants should be seen as refugees and allowed entry.
Italy repatriates African immigrants