ROME (AP) — Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Thursday carried out her anti-human trafficking operation in a southern town near the coast where a wooden boat full of migrants broke up, killing dozens of people and leaving many missing.
In a symbolic gesture to underline what he described as his Conservative government’s genuine concern for the lives of immigrants, Meloni and his ministers flew to Calabria, at the tip of the Italian peninsula, for a cabinet session at Cutro Town Hall.
Meloni, anti-immigrant leader Matteo Salvini who heads the Ministry of Infrastructure – which includes the Coast Guard – and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani posed for cameras outside City Hall after being greeted by the local bishop and other dignitaries.
Cabinet is expected to approve much tougher penalties for smugglers, who guide unseaworthy boats full of migrants to Italian shores.
It is also foreseen that measures will be taken to facilitate the access of refugees to the so-called humanitarian corridors towards Europe when they flee persecution or war in their country of origin.
Many of the dead and survivors of the February 26 tragedy were fleeing Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Syria in the hope of finding relatives in Italy and other Western European countries.
Earlier this week the 72nd body was recovered, nine days after the boat crashed into a sandbar off Steccato di Cutro beach after filling with water and breaking apart in parts.
Eighty people survived, many of whom swam to shore. Dozens of people are still believed to be missing after the boat capsized, which survivors said had left Turkey days earlier with some 180 passengers.