Leave migrants on boats, says Italy’s far-Right party leader

Matteo Salvini demonstrates with far-right activists against immigration Photo: AFP/Getty

The leader of Italy’s Right-wing party has said that immigrants making the treacherous journey across the sea from Libya should be left on board their boats.

Matteo Salvini, the head of the Northern League, posted the comment on Twitter just hours after the Italian coastguard launched a huge operation to rescue more than 2,000 migrants in difficulty between the Italian island of Lampedusa and the Libyan coast.

He said: “12 boats filled with immigrants south of Lampedusa. Help them, but don’t let them get off: we have enough of them!”

He also posted on Facebook: “12 boats filled with immigrants (all peaceful?) were spotted south of Lampedusa. If I had my way, I would help them, care for them and give them food and drink.

“But I would keep them away and would not let them get off, we have enough of them. Do you agree?” Some 2,164 migrants coming from Libya had to be saved from a dozen boats on Sunday.

The Italian transport ministry said the coastguard had been threatened by four armed men earlier in the day who approached them by speedboat from the Libyan coast.

The men, wielding Kalashnikovs, forced the rescuers to return a boat that had been emptied of migrants.

Mr Salvini’s comments provoked outrage on social media while Andrea Cozzolino, the deputy of the ruling Democratic Party, described Mr Salvini’s words as “irresponsible”…

The Australian solution of sending them back in safe lifeboats is the solution. It worked for them. Europe is determined to commit suicide.

Migrants arrive by boat at the Sicilian harbour of PozzalloMigrants arrive by boat at the Sicilian harbor of Pozzallo, Italy February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello