An Italian migrant centre in Sicily was shut down on Tuesday, July 9th, while Interior Minister Matteo Salvini live-streamed and said the facility had been the largest of its kind in Europe.
Salvini attended the closure of the Mineo centre, which he said housed more than 4,000 people at its peak and seised the opportunity to underline the decrease in migrant arrivals since he took over his position as head of Italy’s Interior Ministry a year ago.
The reporters, who joined him in Mineo on the Italian island of Sicily, were told that the number of migrants in centres had gone down from 182,000
a year ago to 107,000 now, AP reported
Interior Ministry figures show that 3,073 migrants arrived in Italy so far this year, compared with 17,000 in the same period last year and 85,000 a year earlier.
Those figures already include the 47 migrants brought to shore in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo early on Tuesday by Italy’s financial police.
The issue of Italy’s handling of the migrant crisis and Salvini’s role in it, in particular, had come into focus again recently, when a rescue ship of German humanitarian group Sea-Watch tried to bring migrants to the port of Lampedusa, despite a ban to do so imposed by the Interior Ministry. The stand-off that followed between Italian authorities and the ship’s captain caused widespread media attention.
Salvini was the driving force behind the ban, as he refused to allow humanitarian rescue ships into Italian ports. Apart from the Sea-Watch ship, several other migrant boats continue to arrive in Italy, despite the country’s populist government’s efforts to reduce the number of migrants arriving by banning rescue ships bearing migrants from docking at Italian ports.