Migrant emergency: Italy choose which side to be on

Now more than ever it is necessary overcome the ambiguities that have long characterized the Italian approach to illegal immigration. On the one hand, Rome supports the Libyan Coast Guard (as well as Tunisia, which has received economic aid and patrol boats from Italy) with money, naval means and training, so that they can rescue and bring back on the African coast boats and rafts loaded with illegal migrants bound for Italy.

On the other hand, all the illegal immigrants who manage to reach our coasts with their own means or thanks to NGO ships perpetually “fishing” off the Libyan coasts, they are welcomed to the delight of the rescue and reception lobbies. Indeed, to the latter (which in the years of mass landings collected over 20 billion euros) the Ministry of the Interior had already since February (with the Conte 2 government) increased the contributions that had been reduced to European standards during the first government of the current legislature, when Matteo Salvini sat at the Viminale and Italy recorded the lowest number of landings.

It is worth opening a parenthesis in this regard. As highlighted in a documented article in “Il Tempo”, thanks to these generous upward adjustments, the costs of hospitality (even less justified in an era of pandemic emergency) for taxpayers have increased by as much as 44 percent. We are talking about millions of euros in annual costs:

  • 50-seat center from € 389,637 per year to € 524,505 (+ 35%)
  • 100-seat center from 921,625 euros to 1,210,340 euros (+ 31.32%)
  • 300-seat center from 2.7 to 3.1 million euros (+ 13.78%)
  • 600-seat center from 3.8 million to 5.54 million euros (+ 44.13%)
  • 900-seat center from 5.6 to 8.1 million (+ 44.08%).

Costs and increases destined to materialize now that migratory flows are swelling again (also thanks to the Immigration Decree of the Conte 2 Government which guarantees a form of reception to every illegal immigrant) and tenders for distribution on the national territory have been opened but also intended to raise justified controversies, considering the economic conditions of Italy and of many Italians.

Expenses that are completely unjustified if we consider that all the illegal immigrants who landed in Italy paying criminals are economic migrants that the European border agency (Frontex) itself believes should be repatriated. Of the more than 14,500 illegal immigrants who landed on the Italian coasts since the beginning of the year, there are more than 2,500 Bengalis who arrived by plane from Dhaka to Tripoli and then embarked in Libya, almost 2,000 Tunisians and then Moroccans, Egyptians, Algerians, Malians, Sudanese, Ivorians, Guineans … ..

In this regard, a further element that characterizes what we could define the “migratory mockery” concerns the ordinance signed on May 30 by the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, which extends the ban on entry into Italy for those coming from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until June 21. Which obviously applies only to those arriving with a visa at the airport considering that this year, with the ban in force, we welcomed 2,500 Bengalis who arrived by plane in Libya and with boats in Italy.

The eternal Italic contradiction on the subject of illegal immigration has also emerged in recent days.

The Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio flew back to Tripoli to cement relations with Libya including support for the Libyan Coast Guard, flanked by the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, the Hungarian Oliver Varhely and the Maltese Foreign Minister Everist Bartolo.

Meeting aimed at showing the determination of Brussels and Rome in offering support to Libya and preparing yesterday’s visit to Rome by Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah accompanied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Economy, Oil and Transport, with the top of the agenda economic cooperation and illegal migratory flows.

The Libyan Foreign Minister, Mrs. Najla Mangoush, pointed out how “The Coast Guard should be part of the strategy to combat the phenomenon and not the solution” and stressed the importance of “Protect the southern borders” Libyans and “Strengthen collaboration with the EU for the security of those borders” while in Rome the Libyan ambassador Omar al-Tarhouni reiterated that the Coast Guard and the Navy are working hard to stop departures.

On the same 29 May, in Lisbon, at the informal meeting of EU Defense Ministers, the minister Lorenzo Guerini, pointed out that “Terrorist groups in Africa pose a threat to all of Europe and its citizens. It is necessary to adopt a new joint Euro-African strategy to combat illicit trafficking in drugs, weapons and human beings ”.

Guerini then added, speaking of the EU naval operation underway to enforce compliance with the UN arms embargo on Libya, that “it is essential to resume the role of the Irini Mission in the equipment and training of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard”.

Everything is clear, at least in appearance: Italy and Europe intend to strengthen Libya and its maritime capabilities to intercept and block the flows of illegal immigrants and to fight traffickers.

On the other hand, the meeting between the Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese e i representatives of the NGOs Emergency, Doctors Without Borders, Mediterranea Saving Humans, Open Arms, ResQ-People saving People, Sea-Watch and Sos Mediterranee: organizations that notoriously would like to tear up the agreements between Rome and Tripoli and force us to welcome waves of illegal immigrants, including those collected from their ships.

A meeting in which the Interior Ministry does not seem to have issued provisions to NGOs such as stopping access to Italian ports (refer to the EU states whose flag their ships fly) or to order them to stay out of Libyan waters to search and rescue where they are an element of attraction for traffickers and illegal immigrants.

None of this. On the contrary, from the reports that emerged it seems that NGOs expressed requests such as the release of ships still subject to administrative detention in Italian ports, claiming that “discussions on migration policies cannot become an impediment to rescue at sea”.

Especially in a phase like this, it was legitimate to expect a warning to NGOs: it is no longer acceptable that private individuals continue to claim the right to ignore national borders by landing hundreds of illegal immigrants in Italy at each landing.

Lamorgese pointed out “The immediate need for stronger solidarity at European level in the field of relocation of migrants, in particular by urging the involvement of the countries of reference, non-governmental organizations and the flag states of their ships”.

At least an unrealistic request considering that European NGOs have always worked to land illegal immigrants collected at sea in Italy (and only in Italy). The minister should remember that the flag states of NGO ships have never offered a port except when Rome, on some occasions with Salvini at the Viminale, denied them.

The minister then pointed out that a key to “Better regulating migratory flows and to combat the trafficking of human beings is represented by an intensification of the humanitarian corridors with Libya in order to allow, first of all, the evacuation of families and vulnerable subjects, guaranteeing at the same time, through the precious the work of UNHCR and IOM, respect for human rights in the centers set up in the North African country ”.

However, it remains clear that strengthening the humanitarian corridors and the control of UN agencies over the fields in Libya only makes sense if the goal is to repatriate illegal migrants to their countries of origin, otherwise any form of reception in Italy and redistribution. in Europe it would only end up encouraging further flows and enriching traffickers.

The minister’s meeting with NGOs has also raised criticism within the Interior Ministry.

“If the watchwords that emerge from the meeting at the Interior Ministry are more dialogue and collaboration with NGOs, I do not agree with them. I would have expected something else: respect for rules and laws, given that NGOs in the Mediterranean do what they want “ commented Nicola Molteni, Undersecretary of the Interior and Head of Immigration of the League.

“It is impossible to dialogue with those who violate international conventions and national laws. Contracting the security of the country to NGOs is very dangerous. There is a code of conduct for NGOs that is not respected. I thought we would talk about that, with obligations and sanctions for NGOs ”.

Concerns in this regard were also expressed by (outgoing) president of Copasir, Raffaele Volpi.

“I look with positive interest at the approach that the Defense Minister and the Foreign Minister have put in place in recent days, giving a strategic dimension to the Italian presence and strengthening the stabilization actions of the southern shore of the Mediterranean and the Sahel regions, identifying them as priority for national interests and for the security of our country also with regard to migratory flows “ Volpi commented.

“However, I identify a significant and difficult to understand divergence with the policies of another primary minister, central to migratory events, who at the same time undertakes initiatives that identify interlocutors that are not compatible, in some respects, with shared guidelines of firmness and reciprocity”.

In the meeting between Minister Lamorgese and his Libyan counterpart Khaled Tajani Mazen, held in Rome on May 31, it was underlined that “the common strategy with the European Union must consider the fight against criminal organizations of migrant smugglers among the priorities. ”Reads a note from the Interior Ministry.

It seems necessary that the government clear the field of any misalignment and that the increasingly serious migratory emergency will soon end up on the table of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who has so far committed to managing other priorities but who in Tripoli, on 6 April, had expressed his appreciation for the work of the Libyan government and its Coast Guard and in Europe is trying to involve partners in supporting the government of Tripoli.

It is necessary to decide with firmness and transparency which side to take: Libya and its Coast Guard cannot be strengthened to stop migratory flows and at the same time dialogue or sympathize with the NGOs that work to expand them dramatically, simply because they pursue opposing objectives and interests.

Today more than ever it is necessary for Rome to speak out and act clearly against illegal immigration and human traffickers. And it must be done quickly because, thanks also to the unfortunate immigration initiatives of the Conte 2 government, Italy has become the favorite destination for traffickers and illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean, as confirmed by the growing flows only to Italy and the arrivals of the latest hours in Lampedusa (from Libya and Tunisia), in Sardinia (from Algeria), on the Ionian coast of Calabria (from Turkey) and along the land border with Slovenia.

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