Migrants near the central train station in Trieste, Italy, on August 25, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Mauro Donato
Migrants near the central train station in Trieste, Italy, on August 25, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Mauro Donato

There has been an increase in migrant arrivals in Italy by land through the Balkan Route, according to Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese. She announced that controls in the border region of Friuli Venezia Giulia would be increased to combat clandestine migration.

There were 3,059 migrants who arrived via the Balkans in Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) on September 6 of this year, according to the interior minister. On the same day in 2019, there were just 2,104 migrants who had entered FVG via the Balkans.

Luciana Lamorgese presented these figures at a meeting at the Trieste prefecture in FVG.

She also said that more people had been sent back to Slovenia this year. She said that over the past year, Italy had conducted 852 readmissions, "over 500 of these recently." In 2019, there were "only 203" readmissions, Lamorgese said.

Migrants sent back to Slovenia

She said that there is an accord with Slovenia that specifies that "if migrants are traced within 10 kilometers (of the Slovenian border), they are readmitted, without prejudice to controls and asylum requests."

Earlier this year, the Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS) and the Catholic charity Caritas published a statement (on May 28), saying that they were strongly concerned about "the implementation of informal readmissions of migrants" from Italy to Slovenia and that it was illegal for authorities to return those who intend to apply for asylum. They said asylum requests must be registered before authorities check whether the applicant might have applied in another EU country. Under the Dublin Regulation, asylum seekers can be transferred back to the first EU country where they were registered. (Both Italy and Slovenia are EU countries.)

Lamorgese said that regarding readmissions, Italy "respects the rules" and that there will be a "mixed patrol" with Slovenia, a country that she said Italy has had "maximum collaboration" with for years. She also announced that there would be an increase in checks on land-based arrivals in FVG.

More controls near the border

Lamorgese said that checks will be made at individual border crossings "where it is believed that (migrants) can be tracked."

"Already starting this evening (Tuesday), we will put initiatives in place regarding controls", Lamorgese said, adding, "we'll see how it goes."

In addition to checks on highways, she said there will be checkpoints on state roads 54 and 56.

"I think the closure of the smaller border crossings -- 21 of them .. can be faced after we see the results of all these activities that we are putting in place," Lamorgese said.

She said in order to control the territory with improved efficiency, soldiers will be sent to the FVG region "like we already did in July."

She said there are currently 375 soldiers working on the "safe streets" campaign -- 95 in Udine, 100 in Gorizia, and 180 in Trieste -- and that others will be sent to the Udine side.

"Through the Balkan Route, criminal organisations easily modify their own routes, adapting themselves to the changes that are implemented little by little," Lamorgese said. "As soon as we close one route, they find another one. We have to take action before the criminal organisations," she said.


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