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Salvini vows to end all migrant arrivals to Italy by boat

Italy's hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday said he wanted to put a complete stop to migrant arrivals in Italy by boat.

Salvini vows to end all migrant arrivals to Italy by boat
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The aim is that “not one more person arrives by boat” on Italian shores, said Salvini during a news conference with Ahmed Maiteeq, vice president of the Libyan UN-backed Government of National Accord.

Salvini said that as “a minister and a father” he did not want any more “women or babies to get into rubber dinghies”.

“The goal is for those who come to Italy to arrive on planes, even first class,” said Salvini, who is the leader of the far-right League party which governs the country as part of a coalition.

Since taking up his post in early June Salvini has pushed the divisive issue of migration to the forefront of the EU agenda by refusing to open Italy's ports to migrant rescue ships operating in the Mediterranean. He accuses the NGO ships of aiding human traffickers to bring migrants to Europe.

READ ALSO: Italy needs migrants to pay for pensions: social security chief

“Since we made our position known, in recent hours there has not been a single ship of these so-called humanitarian associations in Libyan waters,” Salvini said.

“Pregnant women, children and refugees will remain in Italy,” said the minister, who has promised to speed up deportations of illegal immigrants. “Protection is reserved for humanitarian cases.”

Salvini has been at loggerheads with EU leaders over how to handle the influx of migrants trying to reach the continent, and reiterated that fellow EU member states must help Italy.

A wave of anti-migrant sentiment in the EU has seen countries such as Germany and Austria say they will tighten their border controls and propose sending back migrants to EU countries that previously registered them — often Italy.

“Before receiving a single asylum-seeker in Italy from another country, we want concrete, precise commitments, deadlines, costs, means on how the European Union will protect our external borders”, he said.

According to the International Organization for Migrants (IOM), 57,160 migrants have arrived in the European Union since the beginning of the year, 80 percent have landed on the Italian, Spanish or Greek coasts.

COVID-19 RULES

Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government

Italy's outgoing government is easing measures against coronavirus from Saturday despite an increase in cases, weeks before handing over to a far-right administration that has criticised the tough restrictions.

Italy eases Covid measures ahead of new government

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government said it would not renew regulations requiring FFP2 face masks to be worn on public transport – these expired on Friday.

However, it has extended for another month the requirement to wear face masks in hospitals and other healthcare settings, as well as residential facilities for the elderly.

READ ALSO:  Why are so many Italians still wearing face masks in shops?

By the time that rule expires on October 31, a new government led by far-right leader Giorgia Meloni is expected to be in place — with a very different attitude to Covid-19 restrictions than Draghi’s.

Italy was the first European country to face the full force of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has had some of the toughest restrictions.

Last winter, it required certain categories of workers to be vaccinated and demanded proof of a negative test, recent recovery from the virus or vaccination — the so-called Green pass — to enter public places.

READ ALSO: What is Italy’s Covid vaccination plan this autumn?

The pass was strongly criticised by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which swept to a historic victory in elections on Sunday.

“We are against this certificate, full stop,” the party’s head of health policy, Marcello Gemmato, La Repubblica newspaper on Friday.

He said it gave “false security” because even after vaccination, people could get and spread coronavirus.

Gemmato said vaccines should be targeted at older people and those with health problems, but not be obligatory, adding that the requirement for healthcare workers to be vaccinated would not be renewed when it expires at
the end of the year.

READ ALSO: Italy gives green light to new dual-strain Covid vaccines

Cases of coronavirus are rising slightly again in Italy, likely due to the return of schools and universities.

More than 177,000 people with coronavirus have died in Italy since the start of the pandemic.

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