Matteo Salvini visited one of Europe’s largest migrant reception centres in Sicily on Sunday. The newly installed interior minister said tragic shipwrecks off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey that left dozens dead over the weekend could have been prevented, BBC reported.
Port Pozzallo is known as the grimmest refugees reception centres in Italy, which is the main destination for migrants crossing from North Africa to Europe, although numbers have fallen in recent months. Talking to the local people, Salvini said Italy can no longer serve as “Europe’s refugee camp” and pledged to press EU officials for asylum law reform. According to Mr Salvini, the stricter controls on illegal immigration should be directed by the law.
However, critics have cast doubt on the feasibility of Mr Salvini’s plans, and Italy’s new populist government as well. The League, one of the current ruling party, is strongly anti-immigration and a joint plan agreed with the M5S in forming the new government reflects that stance. According to the statistical data, Italy accepted officially 13,500 migrants so far this year.
Prior visiting Sicily refugees camp, Matteo Salvini’sparty warned migrants that Italy cannot afford them. His trip came as Frontex, Europe’s border agency, said that it was ready to deploy more forces to deal with migrants arriving in northern Greece via a new land route. In April alone 2,900 people crossed the Evros River from Turkey, exceeding the 2,441 who used rubber rafts to cross the Aegean.
The cabinet’s critics say its plan to repatriate migrants is unworkable and risks fomenting racism and politicising a humanitarian issue.
A controversial deal between Italy’s former government and authorities in Libya has led to a drop in overall arrivals since last summer.