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UK home secretary to visit Italy to discuss stopping migrants arriving on boats

In World
April 23, 2024

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Home Secretary, James Cleverly, is visiting Italy as part of the U.K. government’s efforts to crack down on migrants arriving by small boats.

Cleverly will meet his Italian counterpart, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, and discuss how Italy and Britain can expand their joint work to stop migrants in north Africa from making often perilous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea, officials said Tuesday.

Cleverly will also visit Lampedusa, the southernmost island of Italy which receives the majority of migrants arriving in the country. In September, some 7,000 people arrived from Tunisia on the tiny island in a span of roughly 24 hours, overwhelming the local migrant reception center.

The visit comes as British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stepped up his calls for the U.K. Parliament to approve his plan to deport some asylum-seekers to Rwanda.

Sunak signed a deal with the east Africa nation two years ago and insisted that his deportation plan is a key deterrent that will help “stop the boats” — small unseaworthy vessels carrying migrants across the English Channel. But the proposal has been repeatedly blocked by court rulings and human rights campaigners who say it is illegal and inhumane.

British officials say the U.K. and Italy are both “global leaders in forging bold and novel solutions to illegal migration.”

“Our countries have shown we are willing to challenge the status quo and use innovative solutions to tackle the issues, while ferociously going after the people-smuggling gangs,” Cleverly said in a statement.

His office referred to a five-year deal recently agreed between Italy and Albania that will see Albania — which is not part of the European Union — house up to 3,000 migrants in two centers for Italy while their asylum requests are being processed.

Like Sunak’s Rwanda plan, that deal was also widely criticized by rights groups.

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