Italy Threatens to Seize NGO Boats as Mediterranean Migrant Crisis Intensifies

Migrants and refugees seated on a rubber boat grab life jackets thrown by members of the crew of the Topaz Responder rescue ship run by Maltese NGO Moas and Italian Red Cross, off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean Sea, on November 3, 2016.

Italy will threaten to confiscate charity-run migrant rescue ships as she considers closing her seaports entirely to the mass influx of asylum seekers arriving via the Mediterranean route from Africa.

The southern European nation is set to make the threat at an emergency European Union summit on Sunday after the country was overwhelmed last week by the arrival of 13,500 Africans in just two days, picked up off the coast of Libya, leaving asylum seeker welcome centres in a state of “collapse”.

The proposed move comes less than a week after the country threatened to close seaports to rescue boats operated by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).

The Times reports that Italy’s interior minister, Marco Minniti, will demand action from the EU at talks in Paris with his French, German, and Spanish counterparts.

The Italian government has said aid groups operating the rescue ships are acting as a “pull factor” for people smugglers and migrants attempting to enter Europe illegally. Officials will threaten that unless NGOs do not adhere to strict rules to be discussed at the summit, their boats could be impounded and they would be banned from landing at Italian ports.

Italian authorities have accused pro-mass migration charities of colluding with people smugglers, with EU Border Agency (Frontex) chief Fabrice Leggeri accusing them of acting “like taxis”  for illegal migrants. Last week, Breitbart London reported that a Dresden-based migrant rescue NGO “Mission Lifeline” is under investigation from Saxony prosecutors who allege the group may be participating in people smuggling.

Italy, now the main point of entry to Europe, saw more than 500,000 migrant arrivals since 2014. Breitbart London reported on Saturday that nearly 100,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean since the beginning of 2017.

The country’s anti-mass migration, populist parties, such as the Northern League and Five Star Movement, have seen increased public support since the beginning of the continent’s migrant crisis.

The head of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini, tweeted following the arrival of 8,500 illegal immigrants on Tuesday alone that it was “fucking enough”.

“This complicit government will do nothing,” he wrote, “so it’s up to us to use every (licit) means we can,” whilst adding the hashtag #stopinvasione.

In June, the Five Star Movement’s mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, called for suspending the admission of migrants into the capital after what she called “a continued influx of foreign citizens” has left the city unable to provide further accommodation.

German historian Hans Peter Schwarz, in his new book, The New Migration to Europeclaims that European leaders have learnt nothing from the migrant crisis in 2015 and the continent is ill-prepared to deal with the next inevitable crisis.

Rather than discussing tightening coastal security on the Mediterranean Sea and turning ships operated by people smugglers back to North African countries like Libya, EU meetings on the matter will likely instead focus on rerouting NGO ships from Italy to other southern European ports like Barcelona in Spain and Marseille, France.

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