The insistence and the way in which the bourgeois media presented this phenomenon helped to exaggerate and distort it, thus favoring the propaganda of the League and the fascist groups and helping to create an unjustified climate of alarm and emergency in the country to provide the people’s approval to the Security Decrees, wanted by the former minister of domestic affairs Salvini.
The closure of ports and the debarkation prohibitions, being useless as well as unnecessarily cruel measures, are also legally inapplicable, as they conflict with the Italian Constitution, the international treaties and the rules of navigation law on sea bailouts. It is a cynical electoral demagogy, made through the blood of the desperate, a kind of "strategy of tension", aimed at introducing further repressive and authoritarian measures, directed mainly against social conflict.
From a legal point of view, the prohibition of disembarkation, forcing the refugees to stay on board for long periods against their will and in poor health conditions, appears as a kidnapping, a crime punishable by law.
According to the statements of the Minister of Domestic Affairs of the new government, depicted as a “technician” being a former prefect, it seems that there will be no substantial changes of course with respect to the policies of the previous government.
The data of the UN High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR) and of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs itself contradict the terrorist demagogy of the League former minister.
First of all, let us try to shed light on the swirl of figures and numbers, often deliberately used inappropriately.
Refugee arrivals have mainly affected 5 EU countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. Overall, throughout the Mediterranean basin, the arrivals on an annual basis at the maritime and land borders of these countries, detected by the UNHCR, decreased from the peak of 1,032,408 in 2015 to 141,172 in 2019, with a downturn by -86.33%. In October 2015 alone, there were 220,000 arrivals, a figure in fact equal to the annual sea arrivals of 2014 and higher than the yearly data of both 2017 and 2018, but it is worth remembering that the greatest impact was on the borders of Greece, where it more than 211,000 refugees arrived, while less than 9,000 people arrived in Italy.
As we can see, the drop in Sea arrivals in Italy is not the result of the League's policies, but reflects the general trend towards their decrease that is recorded throughout the Mediterranean and in all EU maritime border countries. As for Italy, sea arrivals have steadily decreased since October 2017, going from 99.126 in 2017 to 5.085 in 2019, with a decrease of -94.87% (data updated to 08/30/2019), well before the decrees wanted by Salvini and the League.
Still limited to Italy, the UNHCR detects a drop in deaths and missing at sea on the central Mediterranean route, which has always been the most dangerous. From 2,887 in 2017, the deaths fall to 1,247 in 2018, with a decrease by -54%, less than proportional to the decrease in sea arrivals, however the mortality rate on this route has increased significantly, from 1 death out of 38 sea arrivals (2.63%) in 2017 to 1 death out of 14 sea arrivals (7.14%) in 2018, with an increase of almost five percentage points, due to "the significant reduction in the overall search and rescue capacity". This is the only real and tragic result of the Security Decrees by the League-5SM government.
The cynical arm wrestling on the issue of sea arrivals between the NGOs and the Italian government, both players of a game, played on the skin of the refugees with another wager at stake, deserves a separate discussion.
From summer 2018 to summer 2019, in fact, a confrontation was taking place between the EU and the Italian government on the overrun, by Italy still in recession, of the limits set by the EU for the public finance main parameters (deficit/GDP ratio, debt/GDP ratio), that intensified after 2019 European elections, at a time when the next appointment of the highest offices of the EU bodies was approaching.
European financial capital, despite the repeated concessions by the League and the 5SM to the claims of the EU, used different means of pressure, from the bid/ask spread, to the intransigent application of the Dublin Treaty, to the media campaign on the closure of the ports to the NGOs ships, in order to ensure its plans the success.
In particular, the Dublin Treaty, which the international communist movement has always opposed, provides for refugees to seek asylum and remain in the first country of arrival, where they are deported if they fail to comply with this provision. In Germany alone, 4,602 orders of deportation of refugees to our country are being processed, and 1,114 deportations were actually carried out from November 2018 to March 2019. As a further demonstration of the demagogy of the League and the 5SM, it should be underlined that “when voting on a revision [of the Dublin Treaty] on November 17, 2017 in the EU Parliament, the government forces voted against (5SM) or abstained (League) and in 6 cases out of 7 the minister of domestic affairs deserted the European Councils where the issue was being discussed”.
NGOs have been tools of the EU pressure and, in the context of an invasion panic artificially created by the League, have actually favored the growth of the consensus to the League itself and to the counter-measures against sea arrivals, implemented by the Italian government. The artificiality of the contrast between the NGOs and the Italian government is proved by the fact that, while on the media harsh debates were taking place on whether to let or not to let debark, for example, the 53 castaways of the NGO ship Sea Watch, in the same period 1,644 irregular entries were registered, including "phantom sea arrivals" and terrestrial border crossings, 31 times more than the human load of the Sea Watch.
Rescuing human lives is a duty, but one cannot hide the "dirty role" that many NGOs have played and continue to play, favoring the blackmail and the plans of imperialism and, sometimes, agreeing with the traffickers of human beings.
To fully understand the causes of the refugees arrivals, it is useful to consider their origin. Basing on the available data of the Ministry of Domestic Affairs, the EUROSTAT and the UNHCR, we can see that most of them come from Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, while only a minor part comes from Asian countries. The reasons that push refugees, even pregnant women and minors, to head out on the "journey of desperation" at the risk of their lives, to endure violence and torture in Libyan concentration camps waiting for a shipment, paid by their latest resources, may be the most various, but they are always, directly or indirectly, caused by the intervention of imperialism in the refugees’ countries of origin.
The refugees flee from imperialist wars, but also flee from non-belligerent countries, afflicted by underdevelopment, absence of prospects, mass unemployment, poverty and hunger to which capitalist exploitation condemned them. They flee from the oppression of bloodthirsty bourgeois dictatorship and religious obscurantism, which imposes medieval lifestyles and stifles any dissent, supported by imperialism in order to destabilize those countries that oppose its plans. They flee from ecological disasters, caused by the senseless exploitation of their countries’ natural resources by domestic and transnational monopolies, which destroy their living and working environment with the complicity of the corrupt and anti-popular local bourgeois governments. Italian imperialism is no exception: just let us think of what ENI has done and is doing in Nigeria and the Niger delta, where the forced expropriations of large areas of that territory for oil and gas extraction, based on the corruption of local officers, have ruined the local population, causing a mass exodus.