ROME , April 29 (UPI) -- An Italian immigration official warned that 800,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East, if not more, are preparing to migrate to Europe.
John Pinto, director of the Italian Interior Ministry’s Central Immigration and Border Police, testified before a Senate committee Tuesday that “the reception system for migrants is collapsing. We no longer (can) carry them, and places where local populations are becoming annoyed by the continuous arrival of foreigners.”
Over 25,000 migrants have already arrived by sea in Italy this year, the overwhelming majority from Libya, Pinto said, noting the Italian government’s “Mare Nostrum” plan, of intercepting boats filled with migrants as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea, and escort the boats safely to Italian ports, is working, if overwhelming the country’s resources.
No migrants have died in transit since October, Pinto said, when a boat carrying over 360 people sunk off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
“In North Africa, there are between 300,000 and 600,000 thousand people waiting to transit the Mediterranean. The overall cost (of admitting migrants) is significant,” he added. “Every month, patrols cost nine and one-half million Euros ($13.1 million). The European Commission must put their hands in their pockets and provide resources.”