Italy’s new government has pledged to reverse former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s sensible approach to migration policy, this has triggered a new wave of mass migration from north Africa, the Italian people have, as usual, not been consulted.
During the past several weeks, the number of migrant arrivals to Italy has increased bit by bit according to data from the IOM. The number of migrants who arrived in September 2019 is up by more than 100% over the number of similar arrivals in September of last year.
Many of the “New Italians” are reaching Italy by using new people-smuggling routes that originate in Turkey. This month, at least five migrant boats have landed in Calabria, in the far south of Italy. On September 21, 58 migrants, Pakistani males all (where are the women and children?), reached the port of Crotone.
People-smuggling organisations are now using new routes in the Southern Mediterranean to move people to Italy from sub-Saharan Africa. In recent weeks, criminal groups have used small boats (barche in Italian) to transport migrants from Libya to Tunisia, from where the crossing to Lampedusa, Italy’s southern-most island, is shorter and less risky and patrolled by NGO boats eager to pick the “New Europeans” up.
At the same time, Italy’s new government is taking a more lenient approach to the migrant rescue ships operated by European charities, which have been accused, many times, of coordinating with criminal people-smuggling organisations to pick up migrants off the coast of Libya and transport them to Italian ports, making a sly profit as while doing so.
On the other side of the table, Salvini has railed against this new coalition government, saying that it has been “produced by Paris and Berlin, born out of a fear of giving up power, without dignity and without ideals, with the wrong people in the wrong place.”
Salvini has also accused Conte of re-opening the floodgates of mass migration: “Conte has reopened Italian ports, the migrant landings are increasing for the first time in two years,” he said in an interview. He also tweeted: “The new government reopens the ports, Italy is once again the REFUGEE CAMP of Europe. Abusive ministers who hate Italians.”
Since Salvini announced his sensible immigration policies in June 2018, the number of migrant arrivals to Italy, including the number of dead and missing, significantly decreased. The number of arrivals by sea fell from 119,369 in 2017 to 23,370 in 2018, a drop of 80%, according to a UNHCR report.
This positive downward trend reversed as soon as the new government took office in September.
The return of mass migration to Italy is likely to push Italian voters to Salvini, who is now the most trusted politician in Italy, and his party is the most popular in the country.
“The new government will not be able to escape the judgment of Italian voters for too long,” Salvini tweeted. “We are ready. Time is a gentleman. In the end, it is we who will win.”
Time will tell.