Rome, March 2 (IANS/AKI) Just 262 boat migrants reached Italy this year via the Mediterranean, a tiny fraction of the 5,247 who arrived in 2018, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said, hailing the plunge as a victory for his hardline immigration policies.
“Landings in the first two months of 2019 were 262 — in the same period of last year they were 5,247. That is a 95 per cent drop in illegal immigration,” Salvini wrote on Friday on Twitter, citing Interior Ministry figures.
This year, the number of migrants who were repatriated from Italy (1,099 deportations and 86 voluntary returns) was four times higher than the number who arrived, Salvini noted.
Since taking office in June, Salvini has closed the country’s ports to migrant rescue vessels, vowing no more migrants will reach Italy by boat from Africa and plans to deport 500,000 illegal immigrants from Italy.