The Tunisian foreign minister Monday summoned Italy’s ambassador to protest the newly appointed interior minister’s claims that the North African country is exporting criminals and ex-prisoners to Italy in the wake of the death of 48 illegal migrants off Tunisian coasts.
After summoning the Italian ambassador, the ministry also released a statement indicating that it was “very surprised” by Matteo Salvini’s remarks during his visit to Sicilia.
Salvini paid a visit to migration camps of Pozzallo province in Sicilia soon after his nomination as the country’s interior minister following May elections. The head of the anti-migration party Legal Nord stood against the repeated arrivals of thousands of illegal migrants to the Italian coasts.
Salvini who also serves as Italy’s deputy Prime Minister lashed out, in a post on facebook, at Tunisia after a boat carrying 168, including 60 Tunisians and people from seven other countries, capsized off Tunisian coasts. Forty eight of those on board were reported dead and 68 were saved.
“Here, more and more illegal migrants are coming from Tunisia; they are not war refugees but often criminals and ex-detainees,” he said.
The Italian official who stressed that Italy is not Europe’s refugee camp indicated that he would have talk with his Tunisian counterpart on the migration issue.