Italy shuts down one of the biggest migrant camps in Europe

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Mineo centre for migrants located on Sicily Island once housed around 4 000 people. In the past, Mineo was a US military base.

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini participated in the centre’s closure. The minister represents populist and right-wing League party. He has also criticized humanitarian aid groups that assist migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

The decision regarding the closure of Mineo centre was announced in June, when 152 people were staying there. They were moved to another camp. In 2018, 2 526 people were staying at Mineo centre.

During his announcement on the closure of the centre, Salvini thanked Italy’s police, who closed ports, which allowed the government shut down other major migrant camps.

Italy is of the countries used by migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Northern Africa to gain access to Europe. Italy’s populist government has tried to limit the flow of people by prohibiting rescue ships carrying migrants from docking at state ports. In June, Italy’s government adopted a law that provides a EUR 50 000 fine for unsanctioned docking at ports.

Although since 2016, when 181 000 people had arrived in Italy, the number of migrants has dropped to 3 071 this year, the number of missing and dead people has reached 667.

EU Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has requested several EU member states to reach a temporary agreement on taking in migrants, while standing reforms are in development.

«The challenges of migration cannot only be the responsibility of Italy and Malta simply because these states are located on the Mediterranean,» he told German newspaper Die Welt.

EU Mediterranean Patrol Mission will be discontinued at the end of September because of arguments with Italy in regards to unloading migrants saved in the sea.

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