Mare Nostrum to be replaced by Frontex Plus, says Alfano

EU commissioner Malmstrom thanks Italy for 'immense effort'

27 August, 19:32

    A 'Mare Nostrum' rescue operation (archive) A 'Mare Nostrum' rescue operation (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS - Italy's Mare Nostrum migrant search-and-rescue operation will be replaced by an expanded version of European Union border control agency Frontex, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Wednesday after meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

    "Mare Nostrum will be replaced by Frontex Plus, which will merge and expand existing operations," the minister said.

    "As well, human traffickers' vessels will be destroyed so they can't be reused," Alfano added.

    Italy set up Mare Nostrum in October 2013 after 400 people perished in two migrant boat disasters off the coast of Sicily. The operation costs nine million euros a month, taking up the bulk of the Navy's budget. Italy has been calling for the EU to step in to shoulder some of the burden.

    Europe has rewarded Italy's efforts to save the lives of migrants at sea, Alfano added. "Frontex Plus has been green-lit, and it will substitute Mare Nostrum," Alfano said. "This is an important day for Europe and for Italy".

    EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom thanked Italy for its Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue operation. "On behalf of Europe, I thank Italy for its immense effort," she said. "You have saved tens of thousands of human lives. Italy must no longer shoulder this burden alone". (ANSAmed).

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