Rome, June 20 (IANS/AKI) Ahead of United Nations World Refugee Day, Italy’s hardline Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday that Italy welcomed “genuine” refugees but had no space for migrants.
“Tomorrow is World Refugee Day. Genuine refugees are not a problem at all,” Salvini said in a Facebook video.
He contrasted refugees with “the hundreds of thousands of criminals who come to Italy, cause trouble and want to impose their way of life, which is incompatible with our rights and liberties”.
True refugees do not even make up 10 percent of arrivals, Salvini claimed.
“There is no room for everyone else,” he said.
In a bid to achieve “zero” migrant arrivals, Salvini has closed Italy’s ports to rescue ships, sparking international standoffs that have left hundreds of people stranded at sea for days. In a further turn of the screw, a new government decree issued this month slaps fines of up to 50,000 euros on migrant rescue boats which enter Italian territory without permission.
There is currently just one ship saving migrants in the Mediterranean, the German charity vessel Seawatch3, which Salvini accuses of “illegality” and of abetting human traffickers. He claims migrants rescued off Libya should be returned to the war-torn state.