Italy's right-wing Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has penned a biting letter to the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, expressing her "astonishment" upon discovering that Berlin was funding charities for Mediterranean rescue missions.
Tensions arose between Italy and Germany after the Catholic charity Sant’Egidio announced a new agreement with Berlin to finance initiatives supporting refugees in Italy.
A representative from the German foreign ministry stated that their government had established a "financial support programme" valued at €790,000 (835,000 USD) to back the German NGO SOS Humanity in their Mediterranean search and rescue missions. The representative further emphasized that rescuing people at sea is a “legal, humanitarian and moral duty," the Guardian reports.
Italy finds itself at the heart of Europe's migration challenge once more, as over 11,000 individuals landed on the southern island of Lampedusa in just one week. This pushes the total arrivals on Italy's coastlines this year to approximately 133,000, marking an increase of more than double compared to the same timeframe in 2022.
Meloni advocates for strict measures against undocumented immigration and pledges to prevent Italy from becoming "Europe's refugee camp."
In a letter to Scholz shared with the Italian news agencies, Meloni wrote: “I have learned with astonishment that your government – in an uncoordinated manner with the Italian government – has allegedly decided to support with substantial funds non-governmental organisations engaged in the reception of irregular migrants on Italian territory and in rescues in the Mediterranean Sea.”
She further added that EU member states should instead focus on “structural solutions”.
“For example, by working on an EU initiative with the transit countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, which would, moreover, require fewer resources than the one that has been in place for some time with Turkey.”
Italian defence minister, Guido Crosetto, also blasted Germany, saying that he would have expected “assistance and solidarity” with Italy in its “moment of difficulty” as it struggled to handle the surge of migrants entering the country.