Salvini hits out after UN migrant criticism, threatens to cut funding

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Chilean Michelle Bachelet looks on as she attends the opening of 39th session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 10 September 2018. [Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA/EFE]

Italy’s far-right leader Matteo Salvini lashed out at the UN’s new human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet on Monday (10 September) after she criticised the country’s treatment of migrants.

“Italy has over the last few years accepted 700,000 immigrants, including many illegals, and never got any help from other European countries,” Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Salvini said in a statement.

“So we won’t take lessons from anyone, least of all the UN.”

During her first address to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, Bachelet criticised those who would build walls against migrants, as well as Salvini’s decision to close Italy’s ports to boats carrying migrants rescued at sea.

“Erecting walls, deliberately projecting fear and anger on migrant communities, … separating and detaining families, and cutting integration programmes: such policies offer no long-term solutions to anyone, only more hostility, misery, suffering and chaos,” the former Chilean president said in Geneva.

Bachelet said she would send a team to Italy to assess what she said was a rise in reported violent and racist attacks on immigrants, people of African origin and Roma.

A series of apparently racially motivated attacks have shaken Italy in recent months, although Salvini’s League and its coalition partner the Five Star Movement insist this is nothing new.

Salvini also called the UN “biased, uselessly expensive, and misinformed” and questioned continued funding of the organisation.

“We will review with our allies the usefulness of continuing to give 100 million euros (annually to the UN)”, accusing the organisation of wastefulness, he said later on Monday.

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