The leader of Italy’s right wing populist Lega Nord party has accused the left of having “blood on its hands” after a fire in a migrant camp claimed the lives of two African men.
The two men were residents of the “Big Ghetto”, a shanty town near San Severo in southern Italy inhabited mostly by migrant agricultural workers.
The town, which has been in place for nearly two decades, was made up mostly of makeshift huts constructed from wood, cardboard, and plastic. It was engulfed in flames within minutes after a fire broke out on Thursday night, according to local reports. The two men killed are thought to have been from Mali.
Commenting on the incident on Facebook, Lega Nord’s Matteo Salvani didn’t hold back in his condemnation of the left, who he blamed for encouraging migrants to flock to Italy only to work for a pittance in precarious circumstances.
“Two immigrants from Africa, exploited as slaves in the countryside […] are dead tonight because of a fire (the seventh!) in the slums where they lived, in the province of Foggia,” Salvini wrote.
“More blood on the hands of the ‘bleeding heart’ left, who encourage thousands of wretches to come to Italy, promising them everything and leaving them to die.”
His solution: “Stop the departures, block the boats, deport the illegals, fight the traffickers, implement a minimum wage to prevent slavery and exploitation, and to defend Italian agriculture.
“It can be done, and, in fact, it should be.”
Salvini’s broadside comes just weeks after the European Union’s own border service, Frontex, admitted that search and rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea are perversely increasing the number of migrant drownings, as reliance on rescue ships is prompting smugglers to use ever less sturdy vessels to transport their human cargo.
The Frontex Risk Analysis for 2017 admits: “SAR missions close to, or within, the 12-mile territorial waters of Libya have unintended consequences.
“Dangerous crossings on unseaworthy and overloaded vessels were organised with the main purpose of being detected by EUNAVFOR Med/Frontex and NGO vessels.
“Migrants and refugees – encouraged by the stories of those who had successfully made it in the past – attempt the dangerous crossing since they are aware of and rely on humanitarian assistance to reach the EU.”
According to UNHCR figures, 487 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean Sea attempting to cross to Europe between 1 January and 5 March this year.