Gambian Migrants in Italy remain skeptical about Italy’s new Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte and his government’s plans as he vows to crack down on irregular migration during his recent address to the senate.
They fear that Prime Minister Conte could introduce stiffer anti-settlement measures after he was given a confidence vote by the Italian Parliament, according to Reuters.
Among them are Paul, Khalilou, Kebba and Ba Foday, who reside in Sicily, Turin and Naples. The young men are documented migrants, nonetheless they are predicting stiffer new policies to be introduced by the Conte’s government, which could affect their status. “Look we are worried you know, this new government has been campaigning against our integration for long, now that they are in charge, they will make matters worse for migrants,” one of them said.
Sulayman is an undocumented Gambian migrant in Florence; he arrived in Italy since 2017 through Libya. He also felt disappointment with the new government’s stance on irregular migration.
He said “the future is really bleak for some of us whose statuses are yet to be regularised fully you know, we manage to work illegally so that we can send some money back home, but now we may be targeted by the new government and when caught working illegally, we may be deported, I wish the Prime Minister understood our situation.”
Another Gambian migrant who spoke on the condition of anonymity, believes the advent of Conte’s government is very unfortunate for migrants, he added that language used in the run up to elections was extremely negative towards the migrant community in Italy. As a result, he does not rule out the deportation of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants at any time, based on the Leagues’ messages throughout the campaign.
Back home in The Gambia, a group of Muslim elders at a mosque in Serekunda, recently took a congregational prayer against the new Italian government amidst fears of introducing stiffer laws against irregular migrants, this they believe, would affect Gambian irregular migrants in Italy.
Prime Minister Conte, leader of the League, which led the opposition against the integration of irregular migrants into Italy before assuming office, recently told the Italian Parliament that government would end immigration business.
He was quoted by Reuters, saying, “we are not and will never be racists. We want procedures that determine refugee status to be certain and speedy in order to effectively guarantee their (refugee) rights,” he said.
But his new hardliner Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, has pledged in Sicily that Italy will no longer be “Europe’s refugee camp” according to Reuters.