League leader Matteo Salvini during a visit to the hotspot of Lampedusa on July 23, 2020 | PHOTO: ANSA/ ELIO DESIDERIO
League leader Matteo Salvini during a visit to the hotspot of Lampedusa on July 23, 2020 | PHOTO: ANSA/ ELIO DESIDERIO

The leader of the right-wing League party, Matteo Salvini, has attacked the government during a visit to the migrant hosting center of Lampedusa, accusing it of being an "accomplice of smugglers".

Right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister, harshly criticized the government led by Giuseppe Conte during a visit to a migrant hosting center in Lampedusa, Sicily, on July 23.

The week before, the island registered dozens of landings that led to the severe overcrowding of the local hosting center. On the day of Salvini's visit nearly 1,000 people were staying at the center, a facility designed to accommodate a maximum of 95 residents. 

'This government is an accomplice of smugglers' 

"It is not possible to endure something like this, we are unfortunately in a predictable situation, but Lampedusa must be the touristic island it deserves and nothing else," said Salvini, speaking in front of the hotspot. 

"This is not immigration but chaos. I found nearly 800 people, everywhere: on roofs, on the ground -- a few women, few children and all the others were beautiful and strong. No, this is not humanitarian immigration but a business. And this government is an accomplice of smugglers. I can't begin to imagine the sacrifices that are being made by police forces here in Lampedusa'', he declared.

"Lampedusa must be a holiday destination and not a platform for migrants which is only useful to traffickers. It is right and sacrosanct to welcome refugees, but I didn't see any refugees here: there are only well-nourished Tunisians, strong and young who don't look to me as having a desperate face. This government should stop making fun of Italians." 

No coronavirus case in Lampedusa, police chief 

Meanwhile Italian police chief Franco Gabrielli said all migrants who reached Lampedusa on July 22 and 23 tested negative for coronavirus, assuring that the issue of quarantine is not underestimated by authorities. 

"The concern for potential Covid cases among migrants reaching our country is of the utmost importance for the minister, who is obviously not underestimating the issue," said Gabrielli. 

"The data is comforting. For example, all the people who disembarked in Lampedusa as of today (July 23) have tested negative," said the police chief, citing a mechanism of incorrect information and "unjustified concern". 

"I can assure you that the theme of quarantine and the modality with which quarantine must be undertaken in terms of security is a concern, and I observe it everyday, of my minister," Gabrielli said.

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