Category: World News
Sunday, 03 June 2018 18:49
Italy's new hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini was in Sicily Sunday to push the anti-immigration platform that propelled him to power at one of the country's main landing points for refugees.
The head of the far-right League is on the road seeking to rally support for his party's candidates in municipal elections later this month, as part of a broader effort to boost the traditionally secessionist party's profile in the country's poorer south.
But immigration is Salvini's primary bugbear and the newly minted deputy prime minister in Italy's populist coalition government has added a stop in migration hotspot Pozzallo.
The port town in Sicily's south is on the front line: one of the main places where military and humanitarian boats bring refugees fleeing war, persecution and famine across North Africa and the Middle East.
A controversial agreement between Italy's former centre left government and authorities and militias in Libya has triggered a fall in overall arrivals of some 75 percent since the summer of 2017. But since the start of this year, Italian authorities have registered more than 13,500 arrivals.
The latest came late Friday, just hours after Salvini took his oath of office, with some 158 people, including nine children, landing in Pozzallo after being rescued by a humanitarian boat in an operation coordinated by the Italian coast guard.
Salvini had said after being sworn in that he would ask his ministry's experts "how to reduce the number of arriving migrants and increase the number of expulsions".
"The good times for illegals is over -- get ready to pack your bags," he said Saturday at a rally in Italy's north.