Salvini promises stricter border controls from Lampedusa migrant camp

Italy's former Interior minister, and leader of the League party, Matteo Salvini, center, talks to journalists after visiting the migrant reception center on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/David Lohmueller)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Matteo Salvini has promised the protection of the European and Italian borders, as well as strict action against people smuggling, if his right-wing party wins the parliamentary elections later this month.

The Lega leader offered his remarks on Italy’s border security during a visit to the migrant camp on the island of Lampedusa in southern Italy, his second visit to the registration center in less than a month.

Salvini visited the camp for the first time on Aug. 4, then after a preliminary announcement, and according to his report, the base was evacuated before his arrival, with around 850 immigrants transferred to Sicily.

Now, Matteo Salvini appeared on the scene without notice. The politician told the journalists accompanying him that in the hotspot, which can accommodate 350, he found more than 1,300 economic migrants awaiting processing. He spoke of conditions unworthy of a civilized country, and stated that the Lampedusa camp is not a reception center but a “warehouse.” He added that 15 boats full of immigrants landed on the island in the last half day.

In the camp, people are crowded together, lying on the ground in temperatures peaking at 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), including two-year-old children, he said. He pointed out that many of them shouldn’t even be there since they don’t have the right to be admitted, even though they end up on Italian shores for the third, fourth, fifth time and receive care from taxpayers’ money.

Salvini expressed his belief that the Italian and European borders, and the island of Lampedusa, also needed protection. People smuggling is a business, he insisted, stating that migration can be kept under control. “The left has been promising this for 20 years. We, on the right, have also proven that we are capable of confronting human trafficking; it is enough to bring back the necessary laws.”

The Lega leader referred to the migration and security provisions that he introduced in 2018 and 2019, during his time as interior minister. Among other things, the package of laws prohibited the mooring of ships carrying migrants in Italy. Salvini did not hide the fact that, in the event of an electoral victory of the center-right coalition, the League will, among other positions, claim the Ministry of the Interior.

According to data from that department, more than 56,000 individuals have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year. Between January and the end of August last year, less than 39,000 landed on Italian shores. Most of them, almost 15,000, arrived in August, almost without exception to the southern islands.

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