June 14 - United Nations says European Union countries should share out seaborne refugees to ease the load on Italy. Paul Chapman reports.
So far this year alone Italy has rescued more than 50, 000 refugees from overcrowded and unsafe boats in the waters between North Africa and Sicily. Many are fleeing civil war in Syria and forced military service in Eritrea. European Union law says the country where refugees first arrive should handle their applications for asylum. The United Nations refugee agency is urging the Eu to change its rules to help ease the load on Italy. (SOUNDBITE)(English) UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES SOUTH EUROPE SPOKESPERSON, CARLOTTA SAMI, SAYING: "The European Union is based on the principle of solidarity and the principles of solidarity should be concretised in some way and this is where we think there is a lack of action that could be, on the contrary, activated in this particularly difficult moment for thousands, I would say millions of persons." The U.N says European Union nations should adopt a quota system to share round arriving migrants rescued in international waters. Some refugees, who've occupied an abandoned building in Rome, say they want a chance to make new lives for themselves. (SOUNDBITE)(English) ERITREAN MIGRANT, ADHANOM, SAYING: "Not allowed to work, not allowed to educate, there is discrimination among the refugees and the Italian people." About two thirds of the refugees who arrive in Italy move quickly on to other EU countries but are sent back to Italy because of the existing rules. In the meantime there's no let-up in the flow of refugees heading to Italian shores. On Wednesday and Thursday alone Italy's coastguard said it had plucked another 341 to safety.