French migrant rights advocates are concerned about the victory of the far-right in the Italian election. They worry that the situation for refugees and migrants at the Italian-French border and in the Central Mediterranean could become even more difficult.
French non-governmental organizations (NGOs) helping migrants have expressed concern over the victory of Giorgia Meloni's right-wing Brothers of Italy party in the national election in Italy.
"We fear more human rights violations for migrant people living or passing through Italy," Manon Fillonneau -- who is in charge of migration issues at Amnesty International France -- said on Tuesday (September 27).
More migrants leaving Italy for France?
Amnesty has reportedly already started "surveilling police practices" at border crossings between France and Italy, as they fear that an increase in the number of migrants and refugees attempting to leave Italy could lead to a "ping pong game" between French and Italian authorities, with French authorities pushing migrants back towards Italy, news agency AFP reported.
Amnesty is part of project called CAFI, which seeks to monitor the human rights situation for migrants and refugees at the Italian-French border. Also active in the project are four other well-known NGOs -- La Cimade, Médecins Du Monde, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the French branch of Catholic charity Caritas.
'We are preparing for a harsh winter'
Laura Palun, leader of Anafé -- another organization that seeks to help migrants and refugees in the border region -- made a similar prediction. "We are looking at how people in need of protection will access Italy and how the foreigners who live there will be treated, because there could be a new exodus [to France]," she was quoted as saying by AFP.
"Unfortunately, we are preparing for a harsh winter", warned Agnès Antoine, the head of Tous Migrants, an association that provides support to migrants on the French side of the Alpine border with Italy. "There will be battles to fight," she was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
A return of the 'closed ports' policy?
French NGO officials expressed particular concern over the situation in the Central Mediterranean.
"The fact that the far-right -- which has already announced that it wants to prevent any landing on its coasts in defiance of international law -- came to power in Italy, will make the question of European solidarity, in the Mediterranean, even more urgent," Delphine Rouilleault -- the director of France Terre d'Asile -- said on Twitter on Monday (September 26). She added: "While the crossings are more and more numerous, as people risk their lives every day, we must not wait for a new tragedy to occur to react. It is vital that France and Europe pull together and protect those who come to seek refuge."
Several migrant rights operating rescue ships in the Central Mediterranean have recently said they are worried about what the new Italian government will bring.
Many observers expect that the new government will introduce a policy similar to the "closed ports" policy pursued by Matteo Salvini as interior minister in 2018 and 2019. Salvini leads the far-right League party, which is expected to form a governing coalition with Meloni's Brothers and Forza Italia -- a more centrist right-wing party led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Johannes Bayer -- a board member of German NGO Sea-Watch -- on Monday referred to the likely future Italian government as "a party coalition with neo-fascist roots" which would pursue "the criminalization of migration and sea rescues" in a press release announcing the launch of their new rescue ship Sea-Watch 5.