Italy approves measures to address migrant emergency

We will "closely follow" commitments on migrants made by European Commission, says PM Meloni.


ROME: The Italian government has approved a new set of measures to address the migrant crisis, responding to a surge in arrivals from North Africa, particularly on the southern island of Lampedusa.

These measures include extending detention periods before repatriation, establishing new migrant pre-removal detention centers in low-impact areas, and closely monitoring EU commitments, especially a significant deal with Tunisia.

Italy will closely track European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s commitments on migrants, particularly her promise to allocate funds for the Tunisia agreement. Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni emphasized the unsustainable pressure caused by the migrant emergency and stressed the importance of Europe fulfilling its obligations, starting with the Tunisia Memorandum.

The Memorandum, signed by Meloni, von der Leyen, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte with President Kais Saied, aims to combat irregular migration and strengthen economic ties between the EU and Tunisia. Von der Leyen also mentioned the possibility of a new naval mission to combat migrant smugglers in her 10-point plan unveiled in Lampedusa.

Meloni emphasized that President von der Leyen’s presence in Lampedusa underscores that the island’s borders are not only Italian but also European. The package approved on Monday also extends the maximum detention period for migrants awaiting repatriation to 18 months, while asylum seekers can be kept at reception centers for up to 12 months.

Premier Meloni denied that the new pre-removal detention centers would create unease in cities and explained that they would be built in areas with low population density, making them easier to secure and monitor. These provisions will be included in a decree law benefiting southern regions, approved by the government but not yet published.

The ruling center-right coalition shares a unified vision for addressing the migrant influx, and Meloni expressed satisfaction with the government’s teamwork in finding solutions to the pressure caused by irregular immigration. However, she noted that some Italian and European left-wing circles opposed these policies.

Premier Giorgia Meloni accused EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell and left-wing parties in Italy and Europe of working against solutions to curb the arrival of migrants, referencing Borrell’s letter criticizing the Tunisia Memorandum. Meloni expressed concern that some are trying to dismantle their efforts for ideological or political reasons, suggesting that the European Left aims to make mass illegal immigration unavoidable.

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