10, November 2019
Refugees and pro-migrant activists have staged a rally in the Italian capital, Rome, protesting a tough immigration bill that was introduced during former interior minister Matteo Salvini’s time in office.
Despite Salvini having stepped down in September, the controversial bill, which has made immigration to Italy very difficult, has remained in effect since October 2018.
Footage of the Saturday rally showed protesters marching past the Colosseum, carrying banners and placards denouncing the “hate-decree of Salvini.”
“Why don’t they cancel this hate-decree of Salvini? Salvini is not in the government but his decree still exists. How is it possible to live this barbarism? We are really jaded,” said Mahamadou Quasid, a refugee.
The protesters also denounced the racist incidents that have occurred in Italian stadiums in recent months, where players such as Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli have been abused due to their skin color.
Large numbers of asylum seekers — who have since 2015 been risking their lives by taking the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea on debilitated boats from North Africa and the Middle East to reach Italian ports — will be asked to leave Italy because of the “Salvini Decree.”
The perilous journey, harsh living conditions at the destination, and the risk of deportation have reduced the overall number of asylum seekers heading to Europe more recently. Data from refugee organization including the UNHCR, IOM and Frontex show that the overall numbers of asylum seekers entering Europe has significantly decreased.
However, European leaders have warned of a refugee crisis “even greater” than the one that hit the continent in 2015.
In an unprecedented refugee influx, over one million people arrived in the European countries in 2015, most of them fleeing from conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa.
A year later, Turkey became Europe’s gatekeeper after signing a deal with the EU aimed at controlling the inflow of refugees into the continent. The agreement ended the influx, bringing the number down to around 30,000 annually in the following years. Recently, numbers have seen a slight rise as implementation of the deal has reportedly become lax.