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Italy won’t accept repatriation of migrants from European countries, warns minister

A rubber boat carrying around fifty migrants and refugees [Red Cross/Flickr]
A rubber boat carrying around fifty migrants and refugees [Red Cross/Flickr]

Italy won’t accept the repatriation of refugees from any European countries, the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said yesterday.

Salvini warned of “shutting Italy’s airports” in the same way it had defied the European Union (EU) laws and closed its ports to prevent migrant arrivals.

The minister’s remarks came in response to recent media reports that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was preparing to send a group of 40 migrants back to Italy on two flights scheduled to land in the Italian capital of Rome this week. Italian media sources have reported that “up to 40,000 migrants could be repatriated from Germany to Italy as Merkel comes under greater pressure ahead of Bavarian elections next week.”

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“If anyone in Berlin [German capital] or Brussels [Belgian capital] is thinking of dumping dozens of immigrants in Italy through unauthorised charter flights they should know there is not and will not be any airport available,” the head of the anti-immigrant League Party and deputy prime minister said on Twitter.

“We will close the airports like we closed the ports,” he added.

In response, the spokesman of the German interior ministry, Horst Seehofer, has told the Italian news agency Ansa: “No repatriation flights to Italy were being planned in the coming days.”

According to the Dublin Convention, migrants are must seek asylum in the first European country where they disembark. If the refugee moves to another European country at some point, this country is entitled to repatriate the immigrant to the first destination.

Italy has been working to overhaul the treaty, claiming that it has taken in too many migrants.

Read: Portugal, Spain, France agree to take in Aquarius migrants

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