Italy's president Sergio Mattarella Wednesday called on the whole country to welcome migrants, telling regions and local councils not to "turn their backs" on a global crisis of historic proportions.
"We ask our European partners to show solidarity and to share responsibility for managing immigration," Mattarella told a meeting of Italy's association of local councils in the northeast city of Vicenza.
"So we must also apply these principles within our own country. Towns and city councils and regions nationwide must commit to coordinating and supporting our response as well as to the obligation and opportunities for integration," he said.
"No one can turn their backs saying 'this has nothing to do with me'... the responsibility should be shared equitably," Mattarella underlined.
Immigration is a "sensitive" subject in Italy - where over half a million migrants have landed in the south since 2014 - Mattarella acknowledged.
But despite the "fears and difficulties" it may cause among Italians, migration is now a worldwide phenomenon on an unprecedented scale, he said.
"It cannot be ignored but must be managed - as we are trying to do - if we are to avoid being overwhelmed in the coming years," he warned.