Thursday November 30, 2023

Italy complains to Germany over migrant NGO funding

September 26, 2023

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has written to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to complain about funding charities helping irregular migrants in her country, according to a letter made public on Monday.

A surge in migrant boat landings on the Italian island of Lampedusa earlier this month sparked a debate across Europe about how to manage arrivals. Meloni´s government has sought to limit the activities of charity rescue ships operating in the central Mediterranean, the world´s deadliest sea crossing for migrants.

“I learned with amazement that your government, without coordinating with the Italian government, decided to provide significant funds to non-governmental organisations working to welcome irregular migrants on Italian territory and in rescues in the Mediterranean Sea,” Meloni wrote. In the letter dated Saturday, the Italian far-right leader suggested on-land help would be better conducted in Germany than Italy. She repeated her accusation -- strongly denied by NGOs -- that charity rescue boats acted a “pull factor” for migrants crossing the sea from North Africa.

She said EU nations who wanted to help Italy manage irregular migration would be better to focus on “structural solutions”, including working with transit countries to stop the flows.

Meloni´s defence minister said this weekend the NGOs only pick up around five percent of arrivals into Italy, which so far this year number more than 133,000 -- almost double the 70,000 in the same period of last year.