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Italy calls state of emergency over
influx of immigrants
Richard Owen in Rome
Italy declared a “national state of emergency” over illegal immigration
yesterday — and was promptly accused of causing unnecessary alarm with
A Cabinet statement said that the Government had to confront a
“persistent and exceptional influx” of non-EU citizens and it had
approved a proposal from Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, to
declare a state of emergency “throughout the national territory”.
Mario Morcone, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said that the
decision had been prompted by the continuing arrival of illegal
immigrants in ramshackle boats run by people-smugglers at the tiny
Italian island of Lampedusa, just off the North African coast. Many such
boats capsize and their passengers drown.
Mr Morcone said that 9,342 immigrants had arrived between the start of
the year and the end of June — double the figure for the previous year —
and there were at present more than 1,000 at the overcrowded refugee
camp in Lampedusa. Some are repatriated but many are sent to immigrant
camps on the Italian mainland.
The centre-left Opposition demanded an explanation for the state of
emergency being declared, saying that it would cause “confusion and
Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, won final parliamentary approval
this week for a security package under which illegal immigrants
convicted of crimes will face jail sentences a third longer than those