As more migrants come to Italy the Italian Mafia is running migrant services because the government doesn’t have the capacity.
A combination of factors has led to a rise influence for the Italian Mafia. Every day ships set sail from the North African coast in Libya and elsewhere for Italy and the government can no longer cope with the numbers. The situation on the border with Austria has not helped matters either and many fear that Italy is quickly turning into a failed state, Die Welt reports.
The closure of the Brenner Pass by Austria, combined with new laws that would allow Austria to turn away migrants at the border has angered Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who has condemned Austria’s actions and continues to do so on an almost daily basis saying Wednesday, “The proposal of closing the Brenner Pass is shamelessly against European regulations, as well as against history, against logic and against the future.”
The Italian media have dubbed the tensions between Italy and Austria a migrant “cold war” and try to evoke images of the Berlin wall comparing the Austrians to the East German regime.
The Italians now have a new fear, they are afraid that their country will follow the same fate as Greece. Greece has been recently flooded with over 50,000 migrants who are stranded in the country because of the closure of the Macedonian border and the result has been escalating levels of tension and violence.
The European Union-Turkey deal has provided some respite from the migrant flow, though not completely. No such agreement protects the sea borders of Italy and the Italians worry that they are ill prepared for a massive wave of migrants.
Most migrants who reach Italy, like Greece, have little intention of staying there because unlike Germany or Sweden, Italy doesn’t have generous benefits for asylum seekers. Most who do remain in the country end up in criminal activities like running drugs or doing odd jobs like selling knock-off goods or doing errands for the Italian Mafia.
The Italian police are tending to look the other way to many migrants simply for the sake of convenience.
Since the government has been stretched to the limit in regards to migrants the Mafia has found an opening. The Mafia are said to have bribed their way into the “refugee business” and now receive large amounts of cash from the government to provide housing and food to migrants.
The housing they do provide tends to be dilapidated, the food is often rotten and the Mafia have even made migrants pay them daily “protection money.”
In the areas of Southern Italy and Sicily in particular the migrants have little hope of ever finding work. The youth unemployment rate is over 60 percent in some areas and it forces the migrants to turn to the Mafia for work. Migrants who don’t want to play ball are dealt with violently as was the case of a Gambian migrant who was shot in the head for not “playing by the rules.”
Experts fear that the worst is yet to come for Italy as reports say that over 800,000 migrants have amassed on the North African coast simply waiting for the right moment to come to Italy. With no clear plan and a growing Mafia unafraid to use violence, many see the situation as a powder keg.