Too late: The man who cut migrant flow to Italy (trafficking community)


EXCERPT: In power, Mr Marco Minniti spoke rarely. [...Now out of office, he speaks...] When he took over as interior minister in December 2016, migration was a continuing crisis. In just three years, more than half a million migrants had reached Italy after setting off from Libya by boat.

Italians angrily demanded action from the centre-left government. The new minister decided to make use of his long background in intelligence and security work. His plan was simple: co-opt Libyan tribal chiefs into stopping migrant smugglers and traffickers. [...] "...if you don't have the tribes, the Sahara is difficult to control."

By the summer of 2017, Marco Minniti had a deal in place with Libyan chiefs. [...] "I asked them to break any links with the traffickers - and I said that Italy, Europe, and the international community were ready to help their communities financially."

The deal had instant results. The Libyan coast guard began to intercept migrant boats, and numbers on this route fell by around 80%. [...]

The dramatic fall in numbers was too late to save the centre-left government. Voters saw no need to reward an administration which, they believed, had taken far too long to act over migration. At the general election in March, populists came out ahead.

"We lost the election for two reasons," Mr Minniti reflects. "We did not respond to two feelings that were very strong: anger and fear. We lost contact with a big part of public opinion."

The new populist administration is dominated by Marco Minniti's successor as interior minister - the far-right leader Matteo Salvini....


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