A camp of migrants in front of the Gorizia prefecture, August 1, 2018 | Photo: ANSA/STEFANO BIZZI
A camp of migrants in front of the Gorizia prefecture, August 1, 2018 | Photo: ANSA/STEFANO BIZZI

Authorities in the border region say the number of asylum seekers has fallen and emergency situations in migrant camps have been resolved. The region's security assessor wants the new federal government "work towards impenetrability of the border area, including... as a last solution, the suspension of Schengen."

The number of asylum seekers in Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), an Italian region bordering Slovenia, has dropped significantly: from 4,663 people as of April 30, 2018 to 2,795 as of August 26, 2019. This was revealed by Pierpaolo Roberti. He is the regional assessor for security and a member of the nationalist League party. 

He said that emergency situations of the past, such as illegal migrant camps in Trieste, Gorizia, and on the banks of the Isonzo river, have been resolved as a result of joint efforts by government institutions and law enforcement. 

Structures closed due to reduction in migrants 

In a statement, Roberti said the decrease in migrants has had other effects in the region. 

"The effects of the continual reduction in the number of irregular migrants in the area are also highlighted by the closure of various reception structures, including, in the province of Trieste alone, the hotels Transilvania, Daneu and Parenzo, and the Gaspare Gozzi centre," he said.  

Roberti said the regional administration now hopes that "this positive trend can be confirmed in the future as well, through an effort by the government in line with the policies put into effect in the past 14 months."

Roberti wants 'impenetrability of the border area'

Roberti said the regional government will ask the interior ministry for "increased strengthening of controls, including through the use of advanced technologies and physical barriers." 

He said the goal is "to not be satisfied just with the drastic reductions in those entering illegally, but to instead work towards impenetrability of the border area, including also, as a last solution, the suspension of Schengen." 

That Italy's new federal government shares this view, however, is perhaps unlikely. The anti-migrant League party recently exited the government. Hardline anti-migrant Matteo Salvini is no longer interior minister, his successor Luciana Lamorgese  – an independent bureaucrat – reportedly wants to take a more lenient approach to Italy's security laws.

Criticism from the opposition 

Debora Serracchiani, the former governor of FVG and the vice president of the Democratic Party (PD),  responded critically to the Roberti's declarations. 

She also criticized current FVG governor Massimiliano Fedriga, who also belongs to the League party. Fedriga had announced that he wants to "make a framework law on immigration that aims to protect the security" of the area and its citizens. 

"Fedriga and Roberti should at least tune in, if they have to be so full of it on migrants, the only topic to which they are clinging like shipwrecked people to a raft, given the black hole in which they are dragging the region's economy," Serracchiani said. "One wants the regional council to make anti-migrant laws only to see them challenged, while the other is proud of the drop in asylum seekers but wants a wall again and the suspension of Schengen," she said.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday morning, border police tracked down 53 Pakistani and Afghani migrants, including one minor, in the area of San Dorligo della Valle in the province of Trieste, on the Carso high plains. 

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