Published On: Tue, Aug 1st, 2017

Italy migrant crisis: More than half of Italians worried about immigration issue

Migration issues are serious for Italy, which is one of the main entry points for people travelling to Europe via north Africa. 

The Mediterranean country has complained that it has been left alone to face the increasing number of migrants arriving along the coast. 

So far this year more than 93,000 mainly sub-Saharan African and Bangladeshi migrants have arrived by boat in southern Italy, a 17 per cent increase when compared to the same period last year, the Italian interior ministry said. 

At the shortest crossing the Italian coast lies roughly 290 miles from Libya, a fairly lawless country which has become a hotbed of people smugglers. 

A recent survey, by Ipsos PA for newspaper Corriere della Sera, of residents of the EU country found that a staggering 71 per cent thought the country was going in the wrong direction when it came to immigration. 

And that figure is up from just 59 per cent last year. 

Overall the issue of foreigners and immigrants in the country was only viewed as a problem for three per cent of people in 2014, but that figure has since risen to 35 per cent of the 999 people interviewed. 

In response to the growing numbers trying to reach Italy, Rome is considering issuing 200,000 temporary migrants visas which will allow them to travel throughout the EU in a bid to force other countries to take note of the problem.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mario Giro said: “We are in a tug of war. 

“We don’t accept being turned into a European hotspot, or feeling guilty because we rescue people, so deciding what to do with the migrants who arrive is everyone’s responsibility.”

But neighbouring country Austria threatened to shut its borders with Italy in response, as Vienna anticipates an influx of migrants if the Italian government hands out the visas. 

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka criticised the plans, saying: “Italy granting humanitarian visas to migrants is unacceptable. In that case, we would immediately introduce controls in Brenner.”

And inflaming the situation, Austria stationed troops at a key crossing point, Brenner Pass, earlier this month. 

Some four Pandur armoured personnel carriers had been sent to the Tyrol region and 750 troops were on standby in case migrants tried to cross the border. 

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