VIA Daily Express
 

ITALY has fiercely bolstered its programme to send the growing number of economic migrants arriving in the EU state back to their country of origin, it has been confirmed. The country’s reinforced programme comes after the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has increased by 40 per cent this year, to 37,000, the United Nations Refugee Agency reports. 
 
Marco Minniti, the Italian interior minister said 6,242 migrants had been put on flights home by the middle of April 2017, mostly to North African countries, including Tunisia – a 24 per cent increase from the same period last year. 
 
He added: “The challenge is getting countries to accept forced repatriations. It’s not always simple, we need compatible databanks.” 
 
Mr Minniti insisted he was working with other countries to cut the time they take to provide positive identification of individual migrants to 30 days. Without formal identification, Italy cannot expel migrants. 
 
Anis Amri, the Tunisian who killed 12 people when he drove a lorry into a market into Berlin’s Christmas market last year was held in Italy pending expulsion.  But the terrorist was released after Tunisia failed to identify him. 
 
Last year, 18,684 migrants were repatriated from Italy through deals with North African countries and West African countries including Nigeria and Gambia. This year 4,575 Bangladeshis have crossed into the EU, the second largest group after Nigerians. 
 
Italy’s foreign minister has agreed with the accusations that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) may be “colluding” with people smugglers to sneak migrants into Europe. 
 
Sicilian prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro claimed to have “evidence that there are direct contacts between certain NGOs and people traffickers in Libya”. 
 
The Italian government has begun hiring 250 more staff to examine asylum applications, in a bid to cut the repatriation procedure from two years to six months, according to the Times.