Four Thousand African Migrants Picked Up off Libyan Coast, Shuttled to Italy


Between Wednesday and Thursday, the Italian Coast Guard coordinated more than 20 rescue operations off the coast of Libya, bringing some 4,100 African migrants to Italy.

The daily arrivals of hundreds or thousands of migrants has become a routine affair in Italy, which since the first of the year has taken in more than 85,000 mostly African economic migrants—an increase of 21 percent over the same period in 2016. Some, however, such as the Northern League’s Matteo Salvini, have sworn they will force Italy’s anemic government to take the necessary steps to begin closing Italian ports and stanching the flow of migrants from Northern Africa.

On Thursday morning, Salvini tweeted that he would bring legal charges against the Italian government for “abetting illegal immigration” by participating in the free shuttle service from Libya to the Italian peninsula.

Senator Roberto Calderoli, of the same party, joined in the fray, accusing Italy’s leaders of intentionally encouraging illegal immigration.

“Why did vessels from our Coast Guard, Frontex, of Eunavformed and the usual NGOs conduct operations off the coast of Libya and then take immigrants to Italian ports rather than to Tunisia or Malta?” he asked.

“Simply because we want immigrants to come here,” he said.

Based on statements received at the time of landing in Italy, the 2017 migrants home countries are Nigeria (14,504), Bangladesh (8,268), Guinea (7,844), Ivory Coast (7,455), Gambia (5,022), Senegal (4,914), Mali (4,862), Eritrea (4,553), Morocco (4,190) and Sudan (4,051).

The latest operations come just as the European Union has informed Italy that its member states will not assist Italy by taking any more migrants.

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