Georgia Meloni admits she hoped to do ‘better’ on migration

A year after her party’s historic election victory, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni admitted she had expected to ” better “ to control irregular immigration, which has continued to increase in Italy.

Ms. Meloni’s far-right Fratelli d’Italia party was elected largely on a promise to reduce mass immigration to Italy. But the number of arrivals on boats from North Africa has further increased, with more than 130,000 migrants registered by the Interior Ministry so far this year, compared to 70,000 for the same period in 2022.

“It’s clear that we hoped for better in terms of immigration when we have worked so hard”she said in an interview with the Italian channel TG1, broadcast Saturday evening, on the occasion of the anniversary of this victory. “The results are not what we hoped for. This is certainly a very complex issue, but I’m sure we will get to the bottom of it.”she continued.

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Divergences with Matteo Salvini

After 8,500 people arrived on the small island of Lampedusa in just three days earlier this month, Ms Meloni called on the European Union to do more to help relieve the pressure. Brussels agreed to step up efforts and announced this week that it would start releasing money to Tunisia – where many boats leave from – as part of a pact to stem irregular migration from from this country.

But Ms Meloni’s main coalition partner, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigration League party, rejected EU efforts to manage the influx of arrivals which he called ‘“act of war”. The League also condemned the German government this weekend for funding an NGO carrying out sea rescues in the Mediterranean, saying it represented a “very serious interference” in Italian affairs. Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, a member of Ms Meloni’s party, also told the newspaper on Sunday La Stampa that it was a decision ” very serious “ which put Italy ” in trouble “.

Mr Salvini, who closed Italian ports to migrant rescue ships when he was in government in 2019, is pushing for a tougher approach.

“Cynical and totally ineffective”

Since coming to power, Ms Meloni’s government has restricted the activities of rescue ships, which it accuses of encouraging migrants, while pledging to crack down on smugglers. He also sought to promote the repatriation of migrants ineligible for asylum, in particular by building new detention centers and extending the duration of detention there.

A decree published this week in the official journal also provides that migrants awaiting an asylum decision will have to pay a deposit of 5,000 euros or risk being sent to a detention center.

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The center-left Democratic Party said in a memo earlier this week that “on immigration, the Italian right has failed”. “It continues on a demagogic and consciously cynical path, but above all totally ineffective both in respecting and safeguarding human rights and in protecting Italy’s interests”estimates the PD.

The World with AFP

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