Italy coali­tion agrees on 10 Malta mi­grants

Shanghai Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

ITALY’S pop­ulist coali­tion has reached agree­ment on the fate of 10 mi­grants the coun­try agreed to take from Malta de­spite the fury of anti-im­mi­grant In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini.

Dis­agree­ment over the mi­grants, who ar­rived in Malta on Wednesday af­ter be­ing res­cued in the Mediter­ranean and spend­ing weeks stranded aboard an NGO ves­sel, has shaken Italy’s coali­tion.

Salvini, fel­low Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Luigi Di Maio of the anti-es­tab­lish­ment Five Star Move­ment and Prime Min­is­ter Giuseppe Conte, held talks late into the night on Wednesday.

“There is con­ver­gence within the govern­ment on a hard line: ports closed, fight against smug­glers and NGOs,” Salvini said yes­ter­day.

“And I add that any new ar­rival must not cost Ital­ian cit­i­zens a cent,” Salvini said, in­sist­ing that “it’s the in­te­rior min­istry that han­dles im­mi­gra­tion.”

While Salvini has for months re­peated that Ital­ian ports are closed to mi­grants, Di Maio last week said that Italy should take in sev­eral women and chil­dren res­cued be­fore Christ­mas but stranded at sea af­ter no port would al­low them to dock.

Conte, who was named premier by Salvini and Di Maio, agreed with the lat­ter, whose party does not have the same hard­line anti-im­mi­grant po­si­tion as Salvini’s League.

Italy be­came one of eight EU na­tions that agreed to take in some mi­grants from Malta.

Salvini was in­fu­ri­ated by that de­ci­sion and a com­pro­mise was agreed by which Italy’s Walden­sian Evan­gel­i­cal Church would take in the 10 mi­grants.

The church has been in­volved with so-called “hu­man­i­tar­ian cor­ri­dors” that help asy­lum seek­ers come to Italy, as­sist­ing them with hous­ing, Ital­ian lan­guage and skills train­ing.

But Salvini also de­manded that other Euro­pean na­tions ful­fil their prom­ises to take mi­grants from Italy.

In July 2018, Ger­many, France, Por­tu­gal, Spain and Malta agreed each to take in 50 of around 450 mi­grants dis­em­barked in Si­cily from the Ital­ian coast­guard ves­sel Di­ciotti af­ter be­ing res­cued at sea.

Ac­cord­ing to Salvini, France has taken its 50, but Ger­many only 23, Spain 21, Por­tu­gal 19 and Malta none. Ire­land, which said it would take in 20, has re­ceived 16 mi­grants, he said.

The Mal­tese govern­ment yes­ter­day voiced “dis­dain and sur­prise at the in­ac­cu­rate al­le­ga­tions by min­is­ter Salvini,” point­ing out that Italy had promised to take 50 mi­grants from Malta and that the two coun­tries had agreed the two deals can­cel each other out. Salvini re­mained adamant. “We’re not go­ing to take any lessons from Malta, which closed its eyes for years so that boats could head for Italy.”


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