ITALY REACHES BREAKING POINT: Rome sending migrants BACK to Sudan on private jets
ITALY has started to send migrants back to Sudan on specially chartered flights, with 48 already deported.
Sudanese and Italian authorities are working together to tackle the migrant crisis.
Some 48 people in Ventimiglia have been deported as human rights organisations protest against the move.
The migrants, who were hoping to cross the Italian border into France, were flown to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on a chartered EgyptAir flight.
In a bid to avoid protesters expecting the flight to leave from Milan Malpensa Airport, the migrants were actually flown from Turin-Caselle, an airport over an hour away.
The deportation, the first of its kind in Italy, has been met with outrage.
Speaking to local media, protesters said: “We knew well two of the guys that were on that plane.
“Until yesterday they were in the Red Cross centre, they felt safe and they were preparing everything to ask for asylum.”
Italian officials are yet to comment on the deportation.
Alessandra Ballerini, a lawyer in Caritas Ventimiglia and expert in immigration law, said: “This is a mass deportation to a country where fundamental rights are violated and where their lives are in danger.
“With this operation, our country becomes an accomplice.”
In 2015, 60 per cent of Sudanese asylum seekers were granted humanitarian protection in Italy.
But Sudan and Italy signed an agreement earlier this month to work together on migration and border control issues.
A team of Sudanese officials have been sent to the Italian-French border to identify migrants to be repatriated.
Amnesty International says human rights abuses have taken place during conflicts in Sudan.
President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International said: “The authorities repressed the media, civil society organisations and opposition political parties, severely curtailing freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
“Armed conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states continued to cause mass displacement and civilian casualties; human rights abuses were perpetrated by all parties to these conflicts.
“Government forces destroyed civilian buildings, including schools, hospitals and clinics in conflict areas, and obstructed humanitarian access to civilians needing support because of the ongoing hostilities.”
EU chiefs are working with Sudan in an effort to stop boatloads of migrants reaching southern Europe “to solve the root causes of migration”.
Sudan is a major route for migrants moving between east Africa and the Libyan coast on their way to Italy and Greece.
But the legitimacy of the deportation has been questioned.
Members of the Italian Chamber of Deputies have demanded proof following speculation the authorities broke the law by allowing Sudanese officials to choose migrants to deport.
Politicians Giuseppe Civati, Elly Schlein and Andrea Masters said: “If this is confirmed,we could be talking about serious law violations regarding mass deportations.
“Also the violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Italian Constitution, the Consolidated Law on Immigration.
“We demand Minister Alfano to clarify the facts immediately and provide proof of its legitimacy if the deportation was actually carried out.”