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Salvini shows that migrant landings have increased three-fold. Screenshot from

Malta Pact on migrant redistribution a flop as landings increase

Italy's former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini noted the increase in migrants landings and said the new leftist coalition's open port policy should be blamed for recent deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

Published: October 9, 2019, 8:46 am

    Salvini said the open ports policy resumed by the Five Star Movement-Democratic Party coalition contributed to the 13 or more dead off the coast of Lampedusa.

    “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 according to Il Giornale.

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

    In fact just before Salvini was forced to leave office, the International Organization for Migration revealed that in the first five months of 2019, only 260 migrants had died in the central Mediterranean — the lowest number in years.

    According to the latest reports, the shipwrecked vessel near the island of Lampedusa was carrying some 50 migrants. The Agrigento prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident on potential charges of negligent homicide.

    The shipwreck happened in adverse weather conditions as migrants were being rescued from the ship. Eight children were among the 20 or so migrants missing on Monday afternoon while 22 were rescued by the Italian coastguard.

    Salvini warned Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that Italy “cannot go on like this”, because human traffickers were “celebrating” the open ports policy. He urged the government to “realise the disaster of having tripled the landings”.

    New Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese meanwhile admitted that migrant landings have continued unabated after an EU interior ministers meeting on migrants in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

    She added that she did not know the actual number of countries willing to take migrants. “I can’t give numbers” of the countries backing a recent swift redistribution deal sealed in Malta even though migrants were being redistributed already.

    Speaking after France said up to 10 countries “might” back the accord, Lamorgese said “those who have said yes are the three or four States who had already given their willingness, such as Luxembourg, and Ireland,” she said.

    “We have to work to make the accord valid for the other countries too. Let’s hope we get agreement between November and December”.

    Earlier French EU Minister Amélie de Montchalin said 10 countries and “perhaps more” have decided to back the Malta accord to redistribute migrants as soon as possible.

    Lamorgese added, however, that “the Malta accord is already operational because when the NGO ships arrive we already do the sharing out, with countries that give their willingness. Therefore the implementation is already there, even though there is nothing written down. Now we want to see it broadened as much as possible”.

    In actual fact, only four countries have joined the Malta agreement, pointing to a real flop.

    Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU commissioner for migration, called on member states to adopt a firm plan to establish a quota system for the distribution of migrants rescued at sea. The EU “cannot only try to find ad-hoc solutions. We need permanent mechanisms,” he said.

    Only four countries in addition to Italy, France, Germany and Malta have agreed to join the new redistribution of migrants – but then strictly on a voluntary basis. “For now, three or four EU countries have joined the Malta Migrant Management Mechanism, including Luxembourg, and Ireland,” Italy’s new Interior Minister noted.

    The general feeling is that this agreement may soon turn out to be a bluff of Europe to pretend to lend a hand to Italy on migrant reception and then leave the migrants stranded in the name of the Dublin Treaty.

    Conservative party Forza Italia’s Anna Maria Bernini, summed up just how weak the Malta Pact is: “Minister Lamorgese, at the end of the EU Council in Luxembourg, said she will not give today the numbers on the countries that have adhered to the Malta agreement, but then admitted that only three or four states have said yes, other than a historical turning point: Italy has faced yet another failure on the redistribution of migrants. Government will therefore stop giving the numbers by propagating invented successes.”

    In Spain, a boatload of migrants were caught on camera this week as they landed on a beach. The vessel carrying 18 migrants arrived on the beach of El Zapilo, in the southern Almeria province on Sunday, according to local media.

    The footage shows them cheering as they reach land. Twelve migrants were later arrested while six of them managed to escape, according to local reports. Two men were also reportedly arrested for trafficking.

    According to reports, some 15 000 migrants have arrived to Spanish territory so far this year, while 211 died trying to reach the Spanish coast.

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