Italy's interior minister rules out migrant reception centres

Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini poses for a selfie
Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini poses for a selfie
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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Hours after EU leaders agreed to set up migrant reception centres Savini rules them out.


Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini says he's satisfied with the EU migration summit and that his anti-immigration government achieved 70 percent of what it wanted.

And he also suggested Italy's position on migration is a humanitarian one.

"I start from the point that more people leave, more people die. Also because of the NGOs that wait a few miles from the Libyan coast, smugglers don't use anymore motorboats, but inflatable boats only to make a few kilometres," he said on Friday.

But he immediately ruled out opening so-called controlled centres - essentially refugee camps - which the summit agreed would occur within the EU, although it has left it up to individual states to choose whether they will do so.

He added that the only migrant centres Italy would open would be for repatriation, or to put in another way, detention centres.

"The only centres we are opening are those for repatriation, at least one in each region," he said.

"We will also close ports to NGO ship refuelling activities", Salvini added.

Italy is the main destination for the tens of thousands of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean, mostly starting from Libya, and reach Europe.

The summit seems to have papered over the cracks of EU division over migration rather than mended the walls.

Most of what was agreed upon is to be done on a voluntary basis, and members states will not be coerced into taking in even one migrant.

"With five million Italians living in poverty, I think the Italian government's duty is to think about all these people," Salvini said.

"The absolute majority are not fleeing from any war and therefore do not have the right to stay in Italy," Salvini said of the migrants.

EU Council President Donald Tusk, who chaired the summit, said the agreement was "the easiest part of the task, compared to what awaits us on the ground, when we start implementing it."

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