Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi says the EU needs policies to stop refugees turning to human traffickers. This follows Sunday’s migrant-boat disaster off Calabria in which scores of people died.
Italy’s Interior Minister Piantedosi called on the European Union today to adopt policies which prevent refugees turning to traffickers. On Sunday, where a migrant boat packed with refugees broke up in rough sea conditions. Today, another body was recovered in waters off the Calabrian beach of Steccato di Cutro.
This takes the death toll from the disaster up to 64. Dozens more are feared dead as the boat is thought to have been carrying between 180 and 250 asylum seekers. Around 80 people survived. Many of the confirmed victims of the disaster are women and children.
“This tragedy pains us deeply and calls on our conscience to act to stop such dangerous crossings and find concrete responses to the migration issue,” Piantedosi told a parliamentary hearing.
“It is clear this can only be done with decisive action by the EU and strong synergy with the countries of transit. We must prevent refugees fleeing wars entrusting themselves to unscrupulous human traffickers. Responsible EU policies of solidarity are needed”.
Italy’s new decree on NGO ships
Piantedosi said the government’s new decree regulating the activities of NGO-run search-and-rescue ships had nothing to do with the disaster. Under the decree, NGO-run ships must immediately request the authorities assign them a port of safety after making a rescue. They cannot stay at sea to help other people.
They risk big fines and the impoundment of the ships if they fail to comply.
The government has also started to allocate ports of safety to NGO ships that are some distance from their position after making the rescues.
“The decree does not aim in any way to impede rescues, but to made them take place in an ordered way consistent with international law,” he said.
“I reiterate that the new measures do not introduce any bans on rescue operations”.
Hard to stop trafficking from Turkey says Intelligence report
It will be hard to stop migrants coming to Italy from Turkey, Italy’s intelligence services said in their annual report to parliament today.
In its report, the secret service said it would be hard to address the problem of the rising migrant wave from Turkey. Furthermore, NGO-run rescue ships are a pull factor for migrant smugglers.
“There is an increase in migratory flows from the eastern Mediterranean, leaving mainly from Turkey towards the coasts of Calabria, Puglia and Sicily by mainly Kurdish and Pakistani migrants, marking a rise in trafficking as well as the use, which has become practice, of the web and social networks by the same (trafficking) groups to advertise their trips and related services”, the report said.
There is an increase in sea rescue carried out by NGO ships, mainly in the Libyan Search and Rescue area. These activities “are often publicised on social networks by facilitators of irregular migration as a guarantee of a safer journey to Europe”.
In this context, the presence of humanitarian ships represents “a logistical advantage for the criminal organisations that manage migrant trafficking; allowing them to adapt their modus operandi according to the possibility of reducing the quality of the vessels used, correspondingly increasing the illicit profits, but exposing the people on board to a more concrete risk of shipwreck”, said the report.
Italy plans almost 500,000 legal migrant entries this year. So said the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Sovereignty Francesco Lollobrigida at a press conference in Brussels today.
“This year we will work to bring in almost 500,000 legal immigrants. This can also be organised through multilateral and bilateral agreements to support legal immigration”, said the minister.
“Working on flows is the right way. We have a flows plan which has been disregarded for years. However, it can be an opportunity for those who want to come to Italy legally and safely,” he added.