Mafia involvement in refugee aid

The Italian Mafia is said to have made vast amounts of money providing logistical support to refugees. Sixty-eight presumed members of the influential Arena clan were arrested on Monday on charges of infiltrating a reception centre and siphoning off 32 million euros in EU funding. Italy confirms every cliché in the book and refugee relief has become a cash cow, journalists lament.

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La Stampa (IT) /

Italy reinforcing its bad image

Headlines like these only reaffirm the EU partners' prejudices against Italy, La Stampa sighs:

“The problem is that such incidents correspond more or less exactly with the image the European partners have of Italy and the way it has dealt with the problem of illegal immigrants. … Partners who have been asked by one Italian government after another to provide more money to help the migrants and be more flexible regarding our budget so we can improve our solidarity structures. The countries of the EU, the members of the EU Commission and other authorities in Brussels as well as the representatives of individual governments are convinced that Italy, in plain language, always moans and cheats. … Because it pockets the funds and then leaves the dirty work to the mafia and the fraudsters. It promises more controls and then opens the gates, it demands large sums and then the money disappears or is stolen.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Cynical business with people in need

The Italian Mafia's involvement in refugee relief measures shows a deep disrespect for human dignity, De Telegraaf complains:

“This makes it painfully clear just how much the influx of migrants to Europe has become a cynical model for making a profit. Clearly there's money to be made organising accommodation in the countries of arrival. But of course the chain starts with the people smugglers, who load people onto ramshackle boats and send them across the Mediterranean. They know the relief organisations and then the coastguard will come to the rescue. ... Migrants floating out at sea can't be left to their fate. But it's Europe's task to get the smuggling from Libya under control. Although it's an illusion to think there can be a water-tight solution, doing nothing is the worst option. Because then the criminals will go on earning huge sums with refugees, a large majority of whom don't even have a right to asylum.”