Salvini Refuses to Reopen Italy’s Ports: Stopping Migrant Boats Saving Lives

Northern League party leader Matteo Salvini shakes hands during a rally in Rome February 28, 2015. The leader of Italy's right-wing Lega Nord party, Matteo Salvini, held a protest against the policy of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government. At the same time, left-wing movements and associations held a 'Mai con …
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty
VIRGINIA HALE

Matteo Salvini has rejected “humanitarian” demands that he reopen Italy’s ports to NGO boats ferrying migrants across the Mediterranean, insisting that shutting down the trafficking trade is “the only way to save lives”.

As figures showed a massive drop in the number of migrant drownings since he began blocking the boats last summer and disincentivised people from attempting the journey in the first place, the Italian deputy prime minister hit back at claims his hard-line policy was responsible for the deaths of around 170 migrants believed to have drowned off the coast of Libya last week.

“The more migrants who leave [Africa in boats], the more die,” said Salvini. His assertion has been backed up by UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) figures showing the number of migrants registered dead or missing in the Mediterranean dropped from 5,143 in 2016 to 2,297 last year.

Noting that the number of migrant deaths had dropped significantly since Italy’s globalist Democratic Party fell from power, Salvini stressed that “the only way to save lives is to put all the smugglers in jail”.

In a follow-up post on Facebook, the populist League figure said he refused to be “an accomplice to people-smugglers” who trade in arms and drugs, or to ally himself with “NGOs which do not respect our laws”.

“I have not been, I am not and I will never be an accomplice of the traffickers of human beings that with their earnings they invest in ARMS and DRUGS, and NGOs that do not respect rules and orders,” he wrote in the morning on Facebook.

“As for certain mayors and governors on [the left]. Rather than denouncing alleged violations against ‘the rights of illegal aliens’, surely they should be more concerned with taking care of the well-being of their own citizens, since it is the Italians who pay their wages, no?”

Claudia Lodesani of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Italy declared that “moral responsibility” for migrant drowning deaths lay with Rome, along with other EU governments who backed restricting the Mediterranean Sea operations of NGO boats.

“We need legal and safe routes for people [who want to] flee to Europe as well as the restoration of search and rescue systems at sea,” she said, asserting that politicians across the bloc “are responsible for these [recent] deaths and all lives lost in the future” unless the aforementioned policies — which would essentially amount to proactively bringing every would-be migrant to EU shores — are put in place.

A report by the Civil Liberties Union for Europe (Liberties) this week titled ‘The Impact of NGO Rescue Missions’ alleges that, despite the huge drop in the number of migrant deaths achieved by Italy’s clampdown on activities in the Mediterranean, the policy of stopping the boats has been a humanitarian disaster.

The data showing “fewer migrant arrivals mean fewer deaths in the Mediterranean” serves to “mask a disturbing trend” — namely that “the rate of deaths” in proportion to the number of third world migrants successfully delivered to Europe “has never been higher”.

The report does not explain why this should be troubling when thousands fewer lives were lost in 2018 compared to previous years.

Liberties is a George Soros-funded outfit, which recently celebrated Irish plans to drop old blasphemy laws as a “victory for free speech” while also demanding the country immediately bring in laws against “hate speech”.

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