Italy: Row over migrant beds as boat arrivals intensify

So-called minors amuse themselves at a reception centre in Sicily, September, 2014

Italy’s interior ministry has ordered regional prefects to find emergency housing for an influx of boat migrants, sparking criticism on Tuesday over the government’s handling of a crisis that looks set to intensify.

A surge in attempted illegal crossings from the coast of north Africa saw nearly 8,500 migrants rescued between Friday and Monday, reigniting a debate in Italy over whether or not the country has a duty to house all new arrivals.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is “looking for another 6,500 beds for immigrants,” said Matteo Salvini, head of the anti-immigrant Northern League, which has made the crisis one of its platforms ahead of regional elections in May.

“I ask the League’s governors, mayors, assessors and councillors to say no, with every means, to every new arrival. The League is ready to occupy every hotel, hostel, school or barracks intended for the alleged refugees,” Salvini said on Facebook on Tuesday…

Related: (AP, April 15, 2015) A look at EU’s handling of the Mediterranean migrant influx: …They come from countries including Eritrea, Niger, Syria, Iraq and Somalia…The EU also wants to set up immigration screening centers in Libya’s neighbors; Niger, Tunisia and Egypt.

(April 14, 2015) 846 migrants disembark in Lampedusa

(April 14, 2015) Approximately 400 dead as boat sinks off coast of Libya