As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across Europe and countries consider measures to stop the spread of the virus, former Italian interior minister Marco Minniti advocates opening the border to the influx of migrants from Africa.
Minniti, who is currently an MP for the left-wing Democratic Party, one of the government coalition parties, urged the party to proceed with getting rid of the migration decrees approved at the time when Matteo Salvini was the interior minister.
In 2018, Salvini succeeded in discarding the humanitarian protection residency permit through migration and security decrees enacted by the former government.
The previous permit allowed those who did not qualify for asylum to stay in the country for humanitarian reasons. However, Minniti wants Salvini’s decrees, which permitted migrants to enter the country, to be done away with.
Currently, the number of people infected with the coronavirus in northern Italy exceeded 200 cases. Therefore, the plan on allowing more refugees to come to the country, with the possibility of legally staying there, sparked rage among many, including Salvini.
“It is essential that from today, that anyone who enters Italy by any means of transport, from the raft to the airplane, will be checked. And if it comes from some areas, it will be isolated for fifteen days. As other countries do,” said Salvini.
Minniti has a different view on the issue.
“Those decrees must be profoundly changed because they have created the conditions for profound insecurity. The road is obligatory: we must return to widespread welcoming and restore humanitarian protection,” said Minniti, requesting the government to accept more refugees through legal pathways.
“Humanitarian protection keeps people legal, prevents them from falling prey to crime. Integration is not a charitable reflection, but it is the heart of security policies,” added Minniti.
On Sunday, Salvini called on Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, to resign “if he isn’t able to defend Italy and Italians”.
Salvini’s criticism followed the government’s decision to allow 276 African migrants to dock and disembark into Italy.
‘‘The government has underestimated the coronavirus. Allowing the migrants to land from Africa, where the presence of the virus was confirmed, is irresponsible,” said Salvini during a press conference organized in Genoa.
Africa faces a serious threat from coronavirus
Meanwhile, researcher Vittoria Colizza said he, along with other researchers, are very concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in Africa, as countries like Nigeria, Sudan or Angola do not have sufficient medical infrastructure to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The World Health Organization has now urged Africa to prepare for coronavirus cases.
Coronavirus is not the only disease that can spread through migration and travel. Concerns about infectious diseases have been raised in the past, with Syrian and other refugees reported harboring a number of diseases.
According to a study published in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease,” leishmaniasis was the most frequently reported infectious disease” for Syrian refugees.
“In addition, colonisation with drug resistant, Gram-negativ bacteria was reported. In the Eritrean migrants the infectious disease most described in the selected papers was louse-borne relapsing fever. Other frequently reported infectious diseases were scabies and Plasmodium vivax malaria,” the report went on to say.