Once Italy has fished the survivors from the sea, arrested those people-traffickers it can identify (and reach; 19 arrest orders, some of them international, were issued by the Palermo magistrates yesterday for the usual, historic slaver suspects: north African Arabs, West Africans, particularly Ghanaians) the country finds determined resistance to any provision of settlement here, led by local and regional representatives.
The Ministry of the Interior issued peremptory demands [read in English, ed.] to Prefects, Regional Presidents, Mayors which have been met with every mode of expression of refusal to co-operate: from flat 'No', through excuses, expressions of regret 'We are full up', to total silence. Consequently barracks are being prepared, tents readied - and clear local lines of 'Not here' drawn up.
Until now there has been a reasonably rapid pass-through rate to other parts of Europe (accompanied by further criminal exploitation of the need for some kind of papers to obtain settlement in other EU states) but numbers are now so great - 10,000 landed last week alone - that that system cannot cope.
Bitterly the Italians recognise that only the threatened mass arrivals in France, Germany, the UK have levered an emergency discussion out of the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels today. Locally, they are determined to keep up the pressure to share the burden of misery that sweeps towards us.