The Another

    Italy’s hardline stance on immigration has failed



    When she took office in the fall of 2022, the Italian President of the Council Giorgia Meloni promised to resolve, once and for all, the issue of migration, which had been a core topic of hers when she was on the opposition benches. Having come to power at the head of a coalition formed with Matteo Salvini’s right-wing and populist League – always ready to outdo one another on this subject – she stated the objectives of her migration policy at the end of her October 25 inaugural speech. At that point, there was talk of implementing a naval blockade that was supposed to put a stop to illegal landings, and of building new “hot spots” [migrant registration and identification centers] in African territories, where asylum applications would be processed before organizing a distribution of people entitled to asylum among European Union states.

    Read more Article reserved for our subscribers Giorgia Meloni, ‘il presidente’ of Italy’s Council of Ministers

    The whole thing was accompanied by reference to an ill-defined development aid policy within the framework of a nebulous “Mattei Plan for Africa,” invoking the spirit of Enrico Mattei, a pioneer in the Italian hydrocarbon sector. The founder of national energy giant ENI, celebrated for his positions in favor of African decolonization movements, Mattei is associated with a form of benevolent Third Worldism in the Italian historical imagination, relaying the influence of Rome in its Mediterranean neighborhood. As winter approached, the migration issue was less pressing, and the state of grace enjoyed by the head of the government, with the excellent results achieved by her party, made it possible to set out such grandiose visions.

    Six months later, the stated ambitions of the Meloni government have hit the wall of reality. The hypothetical naval blockade is impossible to actually implement and was the first thing to disappear. Meanwhile, “hot spot” projects have also receded. A new illegal migration route from eastern Libya opened this winter. Crossings from Tunisia have also been increasing. Italian coasts have seen a return of horrific shipwrecks, with the death of more than 90 people off the coast of Calabria on February 26.

    A massacre in dribs and drabs

    Landings on the small island of Lampedusa, 140 kilometers from the Tunisian coast, are a harbinger of a summer of tension. They have become a daily occurrence since the arrival of spring. On April 26 alone, 1,078 arrivals were recorded. Reception facilities, where journalists are not allowed, are overwhelmed. Meanwhile dozens of people disappear at sea and corpses are washed up on the island’s shores, hinting at a massacre in dribs and drabs.

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