Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister welcomes refugees ‘escaping war’
Matteo Salvini said it was a pleasure to welcome the children, contrasting them to economic migrants.
Italy’s hard-line interior minister has welcomed 51 refugees and asylum seekers who arrived in Italy after being detained in Libya and then airlifted out by the UN refugee agency.
Matteo Salvini, whose crackdown on migrants fleeing Libya aboard smugglers’ boats inflamed tensions across Europe, was on hand at Rome’s Pratica di Mare military base on Wednesday as the men, women and children disembarked from a flight from Niger.
He tweeted that “welcoming children who are truly escaping war, as I did this morning in Rome, is a pleasure”.
He added that they are different from economic migrants who he believes should be expelled from Italy.
The 51 migrants were identified by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as deserving of international protection and were flown out of Libya to Niger pending relocation.