Italy threatens to release refugees into EU unless help increases

(Reuters) – Italy threatened to allow refugees to cross its borders into neighboring countries on Tuesday unless the European Union takes charge of a sea operation to manage the flow of migrants crossing in boats from North Africa.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano demanded more help after the Italian navy task force ‘Mare Nostrum’ rescued more than 200 migrants and recovered 17 bodies when the boat carrying them sank off the Libyan coast.

“The European Union has two options: either it comes to the Mediterranean to put the EU flag on Mare Nostrum or we will let migrants with right of asylum leave for other countries,” Alfano wrote on messaging site Twitter.

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.