Italian Politicians Say They Will No Longer Shelter Migrants Rescued From The Sea

Some Italian politicians have said that they will no longer provide shelter to migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea. The leaders say they have no more room for the migrants fleeing persecution in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, and that they will have to find somewhere else to seek refuge.

The New York Times reports that in the Northern regions of Italy, some politicians from the anti-immigration party are vowing not to accept anymore migrants rescued at sea into their shelters. The area says that the shelters are overrun and that local officials are running the shelters as a “cash cow.” One Italian politician refusing to accept more migrants is Liguria Gov. Giovanni Toti. The newly elected official was backed by the anti-immigration Norther League party.

It isn’t only newly-elected officials like Toti making the pledge, longtime League leader, Gov. Roberto Maroni says that mayors in Lombardy must take a stance on immigration by not accepting anymore migrants into the area.

“Lombardy mayors must refuse to welcome clandestine migrants.”

The rash of anti-immigrant sentiments comes after a rash of migrants making the perilous journey to flee persecution in their home countries.

“According to Interior Ministry figures, as of early May, Veneto was sheltering some 3,000 rescued migrants, or 4 percent of the national total. By comparison, Sicily, where unemployment is chronic, was sheltering 16,000 migrants for 22 percent of the total, while the more affluent region of Lazio, including Rome, had about half that number, for 12 percent, and Maroni’s Lombardy had some 6,600, or 9 percent of the total.”

Despite political leaders pledging not to accept anymore migrants, the Independent reports that hasn’t stopped families from making the journey. Just yesterday, an Irish naval ship picked up nearly 400 migrants from the sea and are headed to Italy to drop the asylum-seekers off. The pickup was the seventh rescue mission the Irish naval ship made since departing from Cork on May 16th.

The issue isn’t expected to get any better as Britain’s defense secretary, Michael Fallon, claims that “hundreds of thousands of migrants might be in Libya, poised to attempt the perilous sea crossing over the summer months.” Though the exact numbers are not known, it is clear that Italy is at a crossroads when it comes to the ability to shelter and house migrants as they wait for asylum applications to be processed.

What do you think Italy should do about the influx of migrants seeking asylum in the country as they flee persecution in their home countries? Is there a solution that would allow the refugees shelter while not placing a heavy burden on Italy?

[Image Credit: Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images]