Head of Italian League Matteo Salvini called on the Italian government not to allow migrants to land in Italy. Hundreds of migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean by NGO ships over the weekend.
According to Salvini, illegal arrivals of migrants across the Mediterranean must be stopped by the end of August. He is very critical of current Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese, who replaced him two years ago at the head of the ministry.
Over the weekend, NGO ships helped several migrant vessels and took over 700 migrants on board. The Ocean Viking ship of the French NGO SOS Méditerranée has about 550 migrants. Other people were picked up by ships from the German organizations Sea Watch and ResQship.
“I demand that the arrival of these migrants be stopped,” Salvini said. According to him, authorities should not allow ships to dock in Italian ports. He also said that he sent a letter to Prime Minister Mario Draghi calling on the minister of the interior to resolve the illegal arrival of migrants by the end of August.
“If the minister is not able to do that, let the prime minister draw his own conclusions,” he said, adding that it was difficult for the League to support a government migration policy which “leaks like a sieve“.
Salvini to be tried for his approach towards migration
Salvini is facing trial for the harsh approach he took two years ago as minister of the interior against ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean. He blocked their landings for several days, even in the case of Italian military vessels.
He will be tried for restriction of personal liberty and faces the penalty of imprisonment. In another similar case, however, the judge decided to adjourn Salvini’s case.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, 28,500 migrants have arrived in Italy via the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year. This is twice as many as in the same period last year. However, these numbers are several times lower than in the period from 2014 to 2016, when the migration wave from North Africa peaked. The increase was made possible by the better weather that has prevailed in the area since the beginning of May, as well as a more favorable epidemic situation.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has pointed out that more than 1,100 migrants died in the Mediterranean in the first half of this year, which is also more than last year. More than 900 deaths were recorded in the part of the Mediterranean between Libya, Tunisia, Italy, and Malta.
Title image: In this Feb. 12, 2020 file photo, then-opposition leader Matteo Salvini speaks at the end of the debate at the Italian Senate on whether to allow him to be prosecuted, as he demands to be, for alleging holding migrants hostage for days aboard coast guard ship Gregoretti instead of letting them immediately disembark in Sicily, while he was interior minister, in Rome. A judge in Sicily on Saturday, April 17, 2021, ordered former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to stand trial for having refused to let a Spanish migrant rescue ship dock in an Italian port in 2019, keeping the people at sea for days. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file)