Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has written to Chancellor Olaf Scholz to complain about Germany's funding of charities helping irregular migrants in her country, according to the text made public on Monday (September 25th).
I was astonished to learn that your government, without coordination with the Italian government, had decided to provide significant funds to non-governmental organizations working in the reception of irregular migrants on Italian territory and in rescues in the Mediterranean Sea," she wrote.
In the letter dated Saturday, September 23, seen by AFP, Giorgia Meloni suggests that this aid would be better used in Germany than in Italy. And she reiterated her accusation – strongly denied by NGOs – that charity rescue boats operating in the Mediterranean act as a "pull of air" for migrants crossing the sea from North Africa.
More than 133,000 arrivals in Italy this year
The Italian prime minister said EU countries that want to help Italy manage irregular migration would do better to focus on "structural solutions," including working with transit countries to stop the flows. The government of Giorgia Meloni has sought to limit the activities of charity rescue ships operating in the central Mediterranean.
His defense minister said over the weekend that NGOs receive only about 5 percent of arrivals to Italy, which so far this year amount to more than 133,000, nearly double the 70,000 in the same period last year.
Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday that it was allocating between 400,000 and 800,000 euros each to two projects related to migrants, under a programme approved by the German parliament.
The news sparked anger within Salvini's Anti-Immigration League, which shares power with Giorgia Meloni's far-right Fratelli d'Italia party. The defense minister in the Meloni government, Guido Crosetto, said it was a "very serious" decision that put Italy "in difficulty".
The criticism comes after Berlin temporarily stopped accepting migrants living in Italy, after Rome itself suspended European rules governing the distribution of migrants.