Salvini: Migrant Drownings Caused by ‘Do-Gooders’ Re-opening Ports, Encouraging Smugglers

Officiers look at the German NGO Sea Watch3 ship arriving in the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo. During a shipwreck, five people died, including a newborn child. According to the German NGO Sea-Watch, which has saved 58 migrants, the violent behavior of the Libyan coast guard caused the death of five …
GIOVANNI ISOLINO/AFP/Getty Images

The bodies of a child and six others have been recovered from the Mediterranean Sea after an overcrowded wooden migrant transport capsized and sank off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The head of Italy’s League party, Matteo Salvini, has attributed the recent deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean to the open-door policies of Italy’s new left-wing coalition government.

“These deaths are the results of do-gooders, of ‘there is room for everyone’, of open ports, of renewed enthusiasm for the smugglers,” Salvini said.

“The number of landings has tripled. Those who allowed the ports to be reopened, do they mourn these dead people?” he asked.

Deaths of migrants at sea declined under Salvini’s tenure as Italy’s Minister of the Interior, in which he enacted a ‘closed ports’ system. According to the United Nations, deaths on the Mediterranean fell to 2,269 in 2018 when Salvini took over, down from 3,139 in 2017 and 5,096 in 2016.

 

The sunken boat, which is believed to have started its journey in Libya before making a stop in neighbouring Tunisia — a safe country — was carrying over 50 migrants at the time of the shipwreck on October 7th.  Most of the migrants on the boat are believed to be from Tunisia or sub-Saharan Africa, according to Reuters.

A team of 29 Italian Coast Guard scuba divers scoured the ocean floor to recover the bodies of the migrants.

Graphic video from an underwater robot shows the lifeless bodies of the deceased floating upside down beside the shipwrecked vessel.

Rodolfo Raiteri, the lead coast guard diver, told La Repubblica: “Seeing the small body there on the seabed, alongside the woman, who was probably his mother, was a blow to the heart.”

After the shipwreck, prosecutors in the city of Agrigento opened an investigation looking into potential charges of negligent homicide over the incident.

 

 

A stop-gap measure to deal with the issue of illegal crossings of the Mediterranean was agreed to in Malta last month; however, many fear the so-called Malta Declaration will only serve to encourage more crossings.

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