Italian Govt Minister Warns of Migrant Surge as Food Crisis Looms

AUGUSTA, ITALY - DECEMBER 30: A group of male migrants waiting to board the NGV quarantine
Fabrizio Villa/Getty Images

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has warned that Italy may face a surge of new illegal migrant arrivals as a food crisis looms due to a lack of grain shipments from Ukraine.

Minister Lamorgese warned that the lack of grain shipments from Ukraine could have a direct impact on the number of migrants looking to illegally enter Italy in the coming weeks and months as countries like Egypt and Tunisia heavily rely on Ukrainian grain.

“We are concerned because the situation is serious for those African countries, such as Tunisia and Egypt, which take 50 per cent of cereals from Ukraine and Russia and are now in difficulty,” Lamorgese said at a conference this week, Il Giornale reports.

The government minister also spoke about a recent phone call between Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on the issue of grain shipments, saying: “President Draghi phoned President Putin… precisely to try to unblock the situation that risks causing a serious humanitarian crisis.”

Earlier this week, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko suggested that grain shipments would resume once many of the serious sanctions imposed by the west and others had been lifted.

“We have repeatedly commented on the matter [of grain exports] and said that a resolution of the food problem would require a comprehensive approach, including the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” Rudenko said.

Rudenko also added that for shipments to resume, Ukraine would have to remove sea mines around various ports — though some have claimed the Russians are the ones who originally laid the mines.

While Italy may face an intensified surge of migrants if the food crisis deepens, the country is already seen a surge of migrants arriving compared to the same period last year.

A report released earlier this week claimed that illegal migrant arrivals have increased by at least 28 per cent this year, and if the trend continues Italy may see the largest number of illegal arrivals since 2017 when 119,369 migrants arrived on Italian territory.

Such arrivals were falling during populist leader Matteo Salvini’s time as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, when a robust policy of turning away as many boat migrants as possible was in place, but landings — and drownings — have been on the rise since he left the coalition government in 2019.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.