Two-thirds of Italians support government decree on migration row

Migrants stand on the deck of the Humanity 1 rescue ship run by the German organization SOS Humanitarian, at harbor in the port of Catania, Sicily, southern Italy, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Almost two-thirds of Italians agree with their newly elected government’s decree for humanitarian vessels to leave Italian ports after vulnerable migrants have disembarked, leaving healthy adult males on board.

A survey conducted by the market research agency Eumetra for the “Quarta Repubblica” talk show revealed that 63 percent of respondents agreed with the hardline approach by Giorgia Meloni’s administration, while 34 percent disagreed.

The public was asked: “The Minister of the Interior has decided to maintain a line of rigor, allowing only women and minors to disembark and asking the countries of Europe (in particular Germany, which is the nationality of the ship in question) to take charge of these immigrants. Do you agree?”

Almost a third (32 percent) emphatically agreed while 31 percent broadly agreed.

Journalist Giuseppe de Lorenzo, writing for Il Giornale newspaper said the results show that “either the majority of Italians are accused of xenophobia and racism, or some commentators should understand that welcoming (migrants) is good and right, but it cannot be translated into a free-for-all. And above all not without rules. Private NGO ships cannot dictate migration policies to the state.”

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The migration row between NGOs and the Italian government reignited over the weekend when the government, which had initially refused humanitarian vessels carrying migrants picked up in the Mediterranean permission to dock, eventually gave authorization for vessels to drop off only the vulnerable, namely women, children, and those with medical issues.

Captains of the humanitarian vessels, which were flying under German and Norwegian flags, were told to leave the port of Catania with the remaining migrants on board and to take them to the vessels’ host country.

The German captain of Humanity 1, an NGO vessel funded by the SOS Humanity charity, refused to leave the Italian port, and the charity has since commenced legal proceedings against the Italian government for alleged breaches of international law.

Meloni ran on an election pledge to crack down on the levels of immigration into Italy after 82,000 migrants arrived in the country so far this year. If the survey above is accurate, it would appear the Italian people are broadly supportive of her administration’s initial response.

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