A point at the border between Italy and Slovenia on October 25, 2020 | Giovanni Montenero/ANSA
A point at the border between Italy and Slovenia on October 25, 2020 | Giovanni Montenero/ANSA

The governor of the northeast Italian region that borders Slovenia has said that "patrols of the Italian-Slovenian border, which began some years ago, are now very scarce."

"Patrols along the Italian-Slovenian border, which began some years ago, are now very scarce, even though if they functioned as intended, it could allow for the easier readmission of undocumented migrants into Slovenian territory," said Massimiliano Fedriga, the governor of Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG) region and a member of the far-right League (La Lega) party.

Fedriga made the comments during an informal hearing on Monday in Italy's national Parliament in response to a question from Nicola Molteni, deputy of the same League party, on the management of the border between FVG and Slovenia.

"Readmissions that could be facilitated by tracing people close to the border," said Fedriga. He said if patrols were stepped up, returns could take place for those without papers "within 24 hours" of being picked up. He said that increasingly, migrants were being detected once they were further in to Italy and that the patrols were missing many of the crossings at smaller unattended crossing points.

Fedriga said the hope is that "the more than 200 kilometers of regional borders are patrolled and controlled, including with night vision goggles". He said that in 2020, up to the end of October, there were a total of 9,900 trackings of "irregular migrants" with 1,321 readmissions and 1,124 expulsions.

'Rethink policies of irregular immigration control'

"A rethinking is needed in policies of irregular immigration control and border control," Fedriga said. "In Friuli Venezia Giulia, we are experiencing constant arrivals of irregular migrants that before reaching our border cross other European countries. If we don't manage to put into play all the measures that are needed to patrol the borders, we will end up abdicating our role," he continued.

Fedriga expressed concern for "various aspects in the [new immigration measures] approved by the government," starting with "the [re]-introduction of special protection," similar to the old humanitarian protection status which was outlawed by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's "Security and Migration" decree in 2018.

Fedriga said that, "while it is true that the doctrine specifies that this measure would regard detailed profiles, it's also true that humanitarian protection was already supposed to concern limited cases but was in fact used in a very widespread way."

Fedriga felt that the new measures risk "having devastating effects on the territory regarding the number of people who can be accommodated. There seems to be a re-strengthening of so-called widespread reception, which could make it increasingly difficult to guarantee control of the territory and the safety of citizens."

'With widespread reception, control difficult'

Fedriga said "control in a situation of widespread reception across various municipalities becomes very complicated because the forces dedicated to this would never be sufficient. The result would be that of not controling who manages to enter our country irregularly, which is even more serious during a pandemic."

Data from 2020 on arrivals in FVG, updated through October 18, show a "strong increase starting in the month of April" with a total of 9,935 trackings and 4,535 arrivals.

These numbers are very substantial pointed out Fedriga when you take into consideration the relatively scarce population of his largely mountainous region. The population in FVG stands at 1.2 million. Fedriga added that the region was living "under a situation of constant alarm," and claimed that even those migrants who were due to be expelled were often not sent back to Slovenia which only increased the pressure on Italy.


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