ROME , April 21 (UPI) -- An official of Italy’s Northern League political party called for a suspension of operations to rescue the thousands of migrants who arrive in Italy by sea, calling it an expensive “invasion.”
Party secretary Matteo Salvini said a proposal will be sent to the two Italian parliament houses, calling for the rescue, called “Mare Nostrum,” to end. He claimed the operation costs Italy 300,000 euros ($414,362) per day.
“That will end the financing of smugglers and the invasion of our shores,” Salvini said. His political party has often taken strong positions against immigration to Italy.
Immigration is a point of conflict in Italy, as thousands of migrants arrive regularly in unsafe vessels regularly from North Africa and other African nations torn by war and poverty. Many die as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. After about 400 died in sinkings of two migrant boats in 2013, within sight of the Italian island of Lampedusa, Italy began its “Mare Nostrum” surveillance and rescue operation.
Boat arrivals have more than tripled in 2014, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended Italy receive financial help for its efforts.