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    An Italian border police officer escorts sub Saharan men on their way to a relocation center, after arriving in the Golfo Azzurro rescue vessel at the port of Augusta, in Sicily, Italy, with hundreds of migrants aboard, rescued by members of Proactive Open Arms NGO, on Friday, June 23, 2017

    Italian Journalist Explains What Impact Refugee Crisis Has on Italy

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    With the Italian interior minister refusing to allow migrant ships to dock in Italian ports, just weeks after coming to power. In recent years Southern Europe has faced a huge burden in one of the worst migrant crises that the continent has ever seen. Sputnik spoke with journalist Francesca Totolo to find out more.

    Sputnik: Will Italy continue to refuse migrants?

    Francesca Totolo: I suspect that Interior Minister Matteo Salvini will continue to stick with this policy. He knows very well that he can’t discard the major promises he made during the election campaign. 80% percent of Italian citizens have asked the new government under Giuseppe Conte, to close the Sicilian ports to stop illegal immigration.

    After the refusal to allow the Aquarius to dock, Salvini has been very clear on his stance towards the NGO’s, who since 2015 have brought hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants to Italy.

    Sputnik: What impact have the refugee crisis and illegal immigration had on Italy?

    Francesca Totolo: There are currently 600,000 illegal migrants in Italy who have not obtained or applied for international protection. Even after orders of expulsion by the Italian government, they remain free to stay in Italian cities.

    This means that in order to survive, they must participate in organised crime or work in the black market. This has brought severe consequences such as increased crime and a substantial increase in illegal work.

    The discontent of the Italians was made clear by the result of the recent election, with the victory of the so called populist parties.

    READ MORE: Malta Refuses to Accept Vessel With Over 600 Migrants After Italy’s Rejection

    Sputnik: How do you feel the EU will respond to Italy’s new government?

    Francesca Totolo: It seems that the EU may now co-operate with the government of Giuseppe Conte. Salvini is aiming to change the balance of power within the European Parliament, so that substantial change within European policies can take place.

    I consider Conte’s warm attitude towards Russia to be very positive, which will renew the Rome Moscow alliance that was undermined by reckless EU sanctions.

    Brussels has suggested establishing refugee camps outside the EU, but for now unfortunately that Europe’s refugee camp is Italy.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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