Report: Migrant Sea Deaths Dropped in 2018, ‘The Salvini Method Works’

The Associated Press
Libyan Coast Guard via AP
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Italy’s tightened border controls helped reduce migrant sea deaths in the Mediterranean during 2018, Italian media reported this weekend.

According to the Italian daily La Verità, “the Salvini method works,” referring to border controls by interior minister Matteo Salvini, who has insisted that open ports fuel human trafficking and encourage migrants to undertake dangerous sea crossings.

There was no solution under the former Matteo Renzi government, the newspaper notes, since he tried to punt the ball to the European Union and wrung his hands when the EU did absolutely nothing to resolve the problem.

“The proof is that after years of useless chatter the departures and arrivals have diminished, indeed almost ceased,” the newspaper declared. “And with falling departures and arrivals, the deaths have also declined. Yes, the statistics say that despite alarms raised by NGOs, as the number of refugees who board a vessel is reduced, deaths have also been reduced. In spite of all the goodniks who said the opposite.”

Prior to assuming office, Mr. Salvini repeatedly accused NGO vessels of providing an illegal shuttle service for African migrants to Italy and on more than one occasion denounced the NGOs for accepting financing from billionaire George Soros as part of his efforts to increase migration into Europe.

Already last summer, data coming from the United Nations immigration agency (UNHCR) suggested that under Italy’s new populist government, immigration figures would be significantly down for the year, and with them, also the number of migrant deaths at sea.

In the first half of 2018, in fact, Italy witnessed a striking drop in new migrant arrivals, some 80 percent lower than over the same period last year. The number of migrant deaths in the central Mediterranean Sea also decreased significantly, falling from 2,258 to less than half that, or 1,058, in the same six-month period.

According to the UNHCR, there were a total of 2,269 migrants sea deaths in the Mediterranean during 2018, down from 3,139 in 2017 and 5,096 in 2016, when migration across the Mediterranean to Europe was at its peak.

Italy saw a remarkable drop in immigrant arrivals in 2018, with a total of 23,370, down from 119,369 the previous year, the UNHCR reported.

The decline in migrant sea deaths due to more stringent immigration policies demonstrates that tougher immigration regulation in these situations helps save lives, contrary to the fallacious argument to the contrary, La Verità noted.

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