Italians are in growing revolt against the number of migrants arriving on their shores. Italians are resisting the huge influx of immigrants arriving on their shores, with some politicians calling on supporters to say “no, with every means, to every new arrival”
The huge influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa is putting an intolerable strain on a country that has been in recession for the past six years.
Conservative politicians have called for boatloads of refugees to be sent back to Libya, while the system of migrant reception centers is on the verge of collapse.
The government in Rome has asked regional authorities to provide new beds for migrants who are arriving on a daily basis in Sicily and the tiny island of Lampedusa.
But many regions responded grudgingly – some with downright hostility – saying they had no space to offer.
Val d’Aosta, a small, mountainous region on the French border, offered to take just one refugee. There was also a frosty reception from the wealthy northern region of Lombardy.
“Here, as in Veneto (a neighboring region that includes Venice) there is zero space,” said Roberto Maroni, the governor of Lombardy and a member of the staunchly anti-immigration Northern League. “We cannot be subjected to this invasion.”
Conservative politicians say the policy of rescuing migrants at sea only encourages people trafficking by Libyan gangs.
As boatloads of refugees continue to make the dangerous crossing from Libya, merchant vessels in the Mediterranean complained that they were being called to help with rescues.
Italy terminated its search and rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, in October and it has been replaced by a much smaller operation run by Frontex, the EU’s border control agency, which has to rely on the assistance of merchant ships.
In 2013, merchant ships rescued 44,000 migrants, out of total of 170,000 who reached Italy from North Africa.