Minniti migrants decree wins final approval in Italy's House

'Paradox' third of migrants rescued by NGOs, Frontex chief

12 April, 17:53

    Protest against new migration decree in front of Italian Parliament Protest against new migration decree in front of Italian Parliament

    (by Paul Virgo)

    ROME- The Lower House on Wednesday gave final approval to Interior Minister Marco Minniti's decree on migration-related issues. The decree, which passed a confidence vote on Tuesday, got the green light with 240 votes in favour, 176 against and 12 abstentions. The legislation features the creation of new reception centres for repatriation, cuts in the time asylum requests are examined, the elimination of a layer of justice for appeals, the option for asylum-seekers to do socially useful work and an allocation of 19 million euros for the execution of expulsions. The package has been criticised by some non-governmental organizations for allegedly watering down asylum seekers' rights.

    Premier Paolo Gentiloni hailed the decree. "Parliament approves new regulations on #immigration. Faster times for right to asylum," the premier said via his @PaoloGentiloni twitter account. "More effective instruments for reception and integration".

    EU border agency Frontex, meanwhile, said Wednesday that Italy's ability to cope with the influx of asylum seekers is under strain following a 30% increase in the number of arrivals so far this year.
    "Italy remained under migratory pressure last month," it said. "The number of migrants arriving through the Central Mediterranean route in March rose by more than one-fifth to 10,800. "This brought the total for the first three months of the year to nearly 24,250, almost 30% higher than the figure from the same period of 2016".

    The agency said nationals from Bangladesh, Nigeria and Guinea accounted for the largest number of detected migrants. Since the beginning of March, the number of migrants from the Horn of Africa (especially Eritreans and Somalis) has started to increase, probably in large part because of the improving weather conditions on the land route to Libya their home countries, it added.

    Frontex also said it was a "a paradox" that a third of migrant rescues in the Mediterranean were made by NGOs. Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said this was "quite strange" when "there have never been so many public vessels deployed in the sea by the EU and Italy". The quota picked up by Frontex is only 12% and that of Eunavfor Med only around 10%, he said. NGOs have been accused of helping migrant traffickers by going very close to the Libyan coast in response to migrant phone calls. Leggeri said that in several cases Frontex had found that the smugglers had given migrants the phone numbers of NGOs.


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