Italy’s migrant crisis: Salvini pledges to deport 500,000 as election rhetoric steps up
WITH less than a fortnight before Italy’s general election, authorities in Rome are stepping up efforts to evict thousands of refugees – with right-winger Matteo Salvini pledging large-scale deportations.
And the charity Medicins Sans Frontieres has highlighted the fact about 10,000 migrants and refugees throughout Italy are living in what they describe as “inhumane” conditions.
Mr Salvini – leader of Lega Nord – signalled his intention to take a tough stance by vowing to deport 500,000 migrants within five years if his party wins the election – including 100,000 in the first year.
If polling is accurate, the centre-right coalition which includes Lega Nord, as well as former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, is on course to win a majority in the March 4 poll.
And Mr Salvini said: “The only antidote to racism is to control, regulate and limit immigration. There are millions of Italians in economic difficulty. “talians are not racist, but out-of-control immigration brings with it far from positive reactions. We want to prevent that.”
There are roughly 180,000 migrants in Italy
In the report, entitled Out of Sight, which was published on February 8 and which is a follow-up to similar research undertaken two years ago, the charity highlights the country is struggling to cope with just over 180,000 asylum seekers and refugees, most of whom are in or near the capital.
MSF advocacy officer Giuseppe De Mola said: “Refugees and migrants are living on the margins of society because of an inadequate reception system and harmful border policies. “What’s more, policies designed to foster social inclusion of migrants and refugees at the national, regional and local level are poorly implemented.”
The Guardian reports a former office block in the Via Curtatone area of the city became a focal point of the migrant crisis six months, when police evicted 800 Eritrea and Ethiopian refugees who had been living there for four years.
Bereket Arefe, who has lived in Italy since 2005, said: “They told us to go with them in buses because they would provide a solution for us.
Czech PM Andrej Babis has offered to build a kindergarten for refugee children from Italy
“But when we arrived at the police station, they said: ‘The building is evicted, our job is done’.
I asked: ‘And where do we go now?” and they said: ‘Go on the street or book a room in a hotel.’ There was no plan B for us.”
An estimated 100 buildings throughout Rome were similarly occupied by migrants, many without heat, water or electricity but since the summer, efforts to clear them have been stepped up.
After the eviction, migrants slept in the nearby Piazza Indipendenza for five days until police cleared them out with water cannons, while Baobab Experience, an informal migrant camp set up in 2015, has been cleared 2015.
Berlusconi: Illegal migrants are ‘social bomb ready to explode’
Mayor Virginia Raggi, of the Five Star Movement, requested “a moratorium on new arrivals” in the capital, citing the “strong migratory presence and the continuous flow of foreign citizens”, and adding: “We can’t afford new arrivals.”
In a separate development, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is trying to avoid EU legal action over his refusal to accept EU refugee quotas, has offered to help by building a kindergarten in his country for children currently living in an Italian refugee hotspot, with a visit pencilled in for May, the Hospodárske noviny newspaper has reported.
Dita Charanz an MEP as well as an adviser to Mr Babis, said: “It is good that the Czech Republic is now actively involved and shows that it wants to contribute to solving the migration crisis.”