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18:51, 23 June 2018 Saturday
14:30, 30 December 2017 Saturday

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'Historic' turning point in Italy's migrant crisis
'Historic' turning point in Italy's migrant crisis

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni this week called it a pivotal moment in Italy's "historic transition from immigration managed by criminals to controlled, legal and safe migration".

World Bulletin / News Desk

The year 2017 marked what Italian authorities hope was a turning point in the nation's struggle to manage a chaotic and deadly rush of migrants to its shores.

While migrants who made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in rickety boats still numbered nearly 119,000, it was a roughly one-third drop over the previous year.

However, Italy's effort to tackle the issue has not been without controversy, including its moves to enlist the help of powerful militias to curb traffickers' activity.

Still the situation as 2017 closes, is vastly different than the first half of the year.

Between January and June, Italy saw a nearly 20 percent jump in the number of migrants arriving by sea, while asylum applications exploded as its EU neighbours -- France, Switzerland and Austria -- had closed their borders.

In just the last three days of June, a total of 10,400 people landed in Italy as its neighbours refused to allow even a single ship of migrants rescued off the coast of Libya to dock.

With legislative elections on the horizon -- now set for March 2018 -- immigration has been a key issue, particularly for Italy's right and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S).

Italy has tried to adapt how it handles the migrants on its soil, trying prioritise smaller reception centres believed to help new arrivals get on their feet.

Still tens of thousands of asylum seekers languish in large shelters, feeding into the mutual distrust of surrounding neighbourhoods.

 



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