Populist Senator Matteo Salvini slammed the leftist coalition government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, noting the recent increase in illegal migrants and the risks of a new Chinese coronavirus outbreak.
The populist League (Lega) leader remarked that “landings have tripled since last year, with illegal immigrants being recovered even near Maltese waters, while Lampedusa is collapsing and hundreds of immigrants flee the reception centres who risk spreading Covid-19”.
According to a report in newspaper Il Giornale, around 180 migrants fled a reception centre in the Sicilian commune of Caltanissetta, with police later managing to catch 120 escapees.
“This government endangers Italy,” Salvini warned.
The island of Lampedusa, the part of Italy which lies closest to the North African coast, has been inundated with new migrant arrivals in the last several weeks. A report has claimed that as many as one migrant boat arrives every hour on average and the migrant reception centre on the island is heavily overcrowded.
Italian Island Overwhelmed as Migrant Boats Arrive Every Hour on Average https://t.co/qXNMhvBz4E
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 27, 2020
Lampedusa mayor Totò Martello said: “The situation has become uncontrollable. If the government doesn’t, I’ll declare a state of emergency.”
Salvini replied to Martello’s comments over the weekend saying that the Lampedusa mayor was expressing “crocodile tears”.
“We defend the fishermen, entrepreneurs and workers of Lampedusa tired of an unprecedented invasion, which we had stopped last year,” Salvini added.
Last year, Salvini served as Italian Interior Minister, and migrant landings were greatly reduced as ports were blocked off for migrant transport NGOs. Salvini’s closed border police also resulted in a significant decrease in the number of drowning deaths in the Mediterranean sea, as well.
He and his party have now been replaced by the left-establishment Democrats (PD) as the coalition partners of the left-populist Five Star Movement in the Italian government, however.
Salvini is not the only one to speak out against the migrant landings. Earlier in the month, residents of Lampedusa held their own local referendum on the ongoing crisis, with the vast majority voting to close the island’s migrant reception facility.
Italy Poll: Salvini’s Lega in Solid First Place as Democrats Slide https://t.co/baSWa0cdE7
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 2, 2020