170 drown, Rome keeps its ports closed

Matteo Salvini has remained firm after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean left 170 dead last week. Italy's Interior Minister stressed once again that his country will not open its ports to rescue ships carrying migrants, and blamed aid organisations for the tragedy. NGO ships are only encouraging the traffickers, he said. Commentators have harsh words for the minister.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

No helpers, no witnesses

Süddeutsche Zeitung is appalled by the fact that Italy's interior minister is once again using a tragedy as an opportunity to attack aid organisations:

“As if they alone were the problem, as if their presence was a 'pull factor', a magnet for people smugglers. At least as strong as the pull factor is the 'push factor' that is driving migrants to take the dangerous route across the central Mediterranean: Libya's detention centres. They are a living hell. ... Another theory Salvini likes to use for his propaganda is a deception. He claims that if the number of crossings goes down, the number of fatalities will drop. But on a percentage basis, if one is permitted to put it that way, the opposite is true. Never in recent years has the probability of dying in the Mediterranean been as high as it is today. This is because there is no one left to patrol and carry out rescue missions - no helpers, no witnesses.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Massacre of truth

Marco Tarquinio, editor-in-chief of Avvenire, also finds the conduct of Salvini and politicians who share his views outrageous:

“The gentlemen of indifference and cynicism in Italy and Europe have conspired with traffickers and Libyan ring leaders to kill men, women and children on our doorstep. People who took extreme risks to escape even greater suffering. And they have wrapped their decisions in mystifying hate tirades against humanitarian 'do-gooders' who are trying to save lives using 'NGO boats'. We are dealing here with massacres of human lives and of the truth that will be judged by history. But those who can find no words of humanity, compassion or prayer should at least be silent.”