Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has issued a dire ultimatum, warning that Italy will not survive another year of mass immigration like the present one.
“Either we block the influx by 2017 or Italy will not handle another year like the past year,” Renzi announced on national television Tuesday, while also threatening to veto the European Union (EU) budget if Italy does not receive assistance coping with its dramatic migrant problem.
“Right now we can manage it: winter is coming and sea conditions will worsen, but we have six months maximum,” Renzi said, insisting that urgent measures need to be taken to stop the migrants leaving their countries of origin.
As he has done on other occasions, Renzi also said it was imperative for other EU nations to take in their share of migrants, rather than leaving them all to Italy. The Prime Minister blamed the lack of cooperation on “Europe’s inability to show solidarity” during his interview on the late night talk show, Porta a Porta.
Over the weekend, Italy’s coastguard coordinated 24 rescue operations in the Strait of Sicily that resulted in some 6,100 migrants being brought to Italy. Along with 500 more people rescued Tuesday, total migrant arrivals in Italy so far this year have reached nearly 155,000, surpassing the total for all of 2015.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) less than 2,000 migrants have subsequently left Italy, meaning that the immense majority have remained.
The Populist Five Star Movement has used these data to attack sitting Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, insisting that he has zero clout within the European Union and has no idea how to solve Italy’s massive migrant problem.
Recent declarations from Professor Anna Bono, who teaches African History and Institutions at the University of Turin, suggest that most of the migrants coming to Italy are not refugees escaping from war or even poor people fleeing hunger, but young, middle-class males.
The professor also said that traffickers in African countries have vigorously promoted emigration to Italy through extensive propaganda campaigns.
“In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa there are advertisements inciting people to go to Italy, explaining that everything here is free. And indeed it is,” she said.
Last week the Italian government announced the passage of a new law that will cost taxpayers a record €700 million to defray the expenses of migrant welcome centers and centers for retention of “irregular” foreigners.
The measure allocates €600 million for associations that deal with the first reception and housing of migrants, added to the €100 million budgeted for host municipalities to help deal with their costs in handling the arrival of new migrants.
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