Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has said that the chaos in Libya has allowed terrorists to board migrant ships headed to Italy. According to the Guardian, Salvini has sent a letter to the heads of the navy and coastguards to maintain his policy of closing ports to migrant ships. A new directive was also signed targeting the Italian ship Mare Jonio and other charity vessels rescuing migrants. The military and defence ministries deemed Salvini’s action to have “crossed a red line” and caused “an improper pressure.”
In an article published in RT, Salvini has said, “Islamic terrorist infiltration is no longer a risk, it has become a certainty: it is therefore my duty to reiterate that no docking will be allowed on Italian shores.” In response to his directive, a group of MPs from the left-wing parties stated, “The [directive] is a real and unprecedented interference in the recent history of the republic that violates every principle and protocol.” Although the defence ministry oversees the navy and the coastguards, Salvini justified his actions stating, “The port is assigned by the interior minister, whether you like it or not, Italians pay me to defend them and I am doing it.”
A lot of friction among political officials and chaos has resulted from Salvini’s policy of closing the ports to avoid terrorists from entering Italy. Instead of acting alone on the decision to stop migrant boats from entering the ports, Salvini must engage in proper discussion and cooperation with all parties involved and mitigate ways to not only alleviate the tensions building inside the country but also outside. Almost all of the migrants in the rescue ships are desperate to seek refuge in a safe country like Italy. The Italian government and Salvini must take this into consideration and formulate policies to allow innocent migrants in.
The chaos occurred shortly after the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmed Maiteeq warned that fighting in Libya could lead to 800,000 migrants fleeing to Europe for safety. In a statement released by the Guardian, he also warned of 400 Islamic State terrorists escaping from prison and fleeing to Europe as the Libyan National Army officer Khalifa Haftar attempts to capture the capital of Libya, Tripoli. Charity ships have tried to stop the migrants from being taken back to crisis-hit Libya where the recent fighting has led to 100 people killed and 18,000 displaced.
Salvini has continuously attacked migrants through policies and actions that seek to abandon refugees and force them back to Libya where their lives are in real danger. Italy must come together in the midst of the chaos and seek to not only protect their citizens but also save the lives of Libyan refugees by accepting them into the country. It is important to make human rights a priority in situations where women, men and children are in danger.