Mr. Ugo Capilaci, the Coordinator of the “Forza Italia” party of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi based on the southern island of Sardinia, spoke of the Algerian harraga or illegal migrants arriving in the island, and the prospect of deporting them, as well as the option to provide Algeria with vessels for maritime surveillance as this contingency remains on the table, and the aspirations of the island to see the Italian Interior Minister Mr. Matteo Salvini visit Algeria any time soon to examine with the Algerian authorities ways of defusing the burning migrants’ issue.
You stated your pledge in a video posted on your Facebook page to stop the flow of Algerian harraga or illegal migrants into Sardinia, what actions the Italian government intends to take to this effect?
The departure of boats from Algeria to Sardinia should be stopped, so it is essential that the Italian state find a common line with Algeria to take a common and efficient step in this regard.
In 2009, there was a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries’ police services, but now the harraga phenomenon has taken on a larger and broader dimension that imposes an agreement between the governments of the two countries
Therefore, the European Union must also be involved in directing and allocating the necessary financial resources, within the framework of the European Trust Fund for Africa, to contain the sources of the unabated harraga flows.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini recently said he would visit Algeria soon, what are you expecting from this planned visit, and what are your proposals for Minister Salvini?
We hope that this visit will enhance the cooperation between Algeria and Italy with greater involvement of the European Union. We demand greater rigor in the deportation of Algerian Harraga or illegal migrants from Sardinia, because many people who have no connection to asylum seek a document in which they can travel freely in Italy and Europe and then they become invisible.
The Italian Government recently approved the granting of 12 naval units to control the influx of illegal immigrants. Does Italy intend to do the same in conjunction with Algeria?
It is one of the options we have and should be taken into account if necessary.
I said earlier that these young Algerians did not escape any war, so how do you see as politicians in Sardinia this phenomenon that annually carries hundreds to the island’s shores?
Unfortunately, our island is witnessing the arrival of 2,000 young Algerians to study or seek work and a better future.
Europe has also to understand that there is an urgent need for a new and significant Marshall Plan to create opportunities for people who leave their countries and migrate in Europe.
The policy of undocumented and unregulated migrants received unfortunately much of the dead, more social tensions, more exploitation and more traffickers.
It must also be remembered that amidst thousands of desperate immigrants, there are people such as the one who attacked passengers in Charleroi, Belgium, was caught on August 6, 2016, shouting “Allahou Akbar”.
We are not going to generalize, but it would be a serious mistake to underestimate this issue.
Regarding the deportations of the Algerian Harraga, what did you propose to the Italian government for that matter?
Our first position is that the departure of Algerian boats should be stopped.
With regard to their deportation, they must be actual operations and not merely ink on paper.
Air travel by plane will be the most efficient and expedient way. Therefore, the faster and more effective deportations, the fewer boats departures and human trafficking will become less prosperous.
Is it true that the island authorities are in the process of equipping a former penal institution i.e: (Makomar prison) to receive the Algerian “Harraga” or illegal migrants?
Indeed, this is true, and now the latter are held in a former police school.
The previous government planned to add the former Makomar prison (in central Sardinia) and aims to establish a similar structure in Iglesias (in the south of Sardinia).
We were opposed to this solution because it would have caused excessive concentration of structures in the same area, where other reception centers already exist.
Do you have official statistics regarding the Algerian “Harraga” or illegal migrants currently being held in the reception centers?
According to the figures we have, there are now about 2,000 Algerian harraga who arrived at the Sardinia island in 2017, which is double the number of arrivals in 2016 and five times the number of arrivals in 2015.
During the current year, Algerian “harraga” or illegal migrants continued to reach Sardinia at a high rate and are likely to reach the same number of 2017 (2,000).
I think it is in the interest of Algeria and Italy to work together to curb this nagging phenomenon before it runs out of control, and the risk of becoming a permanent crossing point for illegal migrants is greater than it is now, even for migrants hailing from other parts of Africa.
We want to know your position on the gas pipeline project “Galsi” that was supposed to link Algeria to Sardinia. Are there any attempts to revive the project?
The decision to forsake the Galsi project in 2014 is a defeat for the managing team that currently runs the island because Sardinia needs gas.
To date there are no alternative proposals for the project and this Galsi gas pipeline would have reduced the island’s energy costs by about 40 percent.
We, as a political party, support the idea of bringing gas to Sardinia, but an alternative project must be hammered out in comparison to the original project.