Italy blames Wagner PMC for surge of African migrants
Guido Crozetto (Photo:REUTERS/Johanna Geron)
The Italian government believes that mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group private military company are behind the recent influx of migrant boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, Reuters reported on March 13.
"I think it is now safe to say that the exponential increase in the migratory phenomenon departing from African shores is also, to a not insignificant extent, part of a clear strategy of hybrid warfare that the Wagner division is implementing, using its considerable weight in some African countries," Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto said.
During a recent visit to Israel, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said he was concerned that many migrants were coming from areas "controlled by the Wagner group."
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, about 20,000 people arrived in Italy in 2023, compared to 6,100 in the same period of 2022, putting the government under increasing pressure.
Italian far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni takes a tough stance on illegal immigration. She came under fire last month after a shipwreck near Calabria killed at least 79 people. The Italian government is calling on NATO allies to help deal with the crisis.
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