European Union interior ministers on Friday weighed proposals to ease tensions between France and Italy over migrants arriving on their shores without authorization, including a possible crackdown on charity-run ships doing search and rescue work in the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent weeks, several hundred people hoping to enter Europe have been stranded at sea aboard aid ships while countries bicker over whether and where they should be allowed to disembark.

It comes during a year in which more than 90,000 migrants have so far arrived in Europe though the Mediterranean, chiefly from Libya and Tunisia – an increase of almost 50% over the same period in 2021.

Almost 2,000 people have died or are missing at sea.A diplomatic row erupted earlier this month when Italy maneuvered France into accepting a humanitarian rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, with 234 migrants aboard.

© Copyright LaPresse