Italy, Europe and the struggle with migrants

After the additional tragedy in the Mediterranean, it deems as necessary to stop conceiving the immigration from areas of crisis as an occasional emergency, and to start classifying it as a structural problem, first of humanitarian than of political nature.

Lampedusa migrantsFor years migration in Italy was only seen outward. Both northerners and southerners left the “Bel Paese” in search of fortune abroad, especially in America. But recently, given the strategic position at the center of the Mediterranean, and the proximity to areas of crisis, Italy has become a land where migration is inward.

Unfortunately, the structure of Italian society, though rapidly changing, is still homogenous and has not demonstrated itself prepared for multiculturalism, integration or assimilation. And the recent surge of incoming people has more aggravated the Italian migrants’ reception system. To give some data, in 2014 migrants who landed in Italy were a staggering 170,000 (in 2013 they were 42.000), and in the first two months of 2015 the pace of landings has further intensified: the statistics accounts for 43% more than the same period last year.

The instruments – both political and legal –, resources and officers in Italy are not enough to counterbalance this phenomenon. As a consequence, high-level Italian politicians are publicly underlining the problem by demanding a greater involvement of the EU institution, as well as of international community. Among them, Italian foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, at the G7 summit in Lubecca last week, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi during the visit of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Italy, as well as the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, are all pointing at this problem as a critical one not only for Italy itself but for the stability of the entire EU.

They call not only for security measures, but also for procedures to reduce the causes of migration. But this solution would be possible, and desirable, only with the involvement of countries of the southern shore of the Mediterranean. This involvement can difficultly occur if on the other side a single, credible and trustworthy state authority lacks. The instability and wars in the Middle East and sub-Saharan region, the rise of Libya’s rogue state, the Syrian civil war, the ruling of authoritarian regimes that keep the population in poverty and prevent civil society from flourishing – like in Algeria – will keep the flux high.

It is clear that a solution to the problem, if ever there is one, should only be long-term. And it goes through the stabilization of crisis areas. For the moment, Europe should equip itself to ensure one of the most ancient rights: the right to migrate. No other solution can be more immediate and easier. Migrants’ reception could seem a struggle, but indeed it is not. Europe is a large continent, where there may be room for some more people, if all 28 EU Members are willing to. If in the last century America did it with Europeans, there is no reason to think that we are not able to do it with Africans.

Domenico Fracchiolla 
GIulia Formichetti
Michele Carretti

Pubblicato il 29 aprile 2015

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