Italy’s Interior minister Matteo Salvini hailed the closure of an asylum-seeker reception centre (CARA) in the Sicilian town of Mineo on Tuesday, one known as the largest reception centre for migrants in Europe.

“[It was] The greatest immigration centre in Europe, a business for many, many of millions of euros, and as verified by the public prosecutor’s office, it had become a hotspot for the Nigerian mafia, for drug trafficking, for the sex trade, for robbery, for fencing, aggressions, violence, sexual assaults and murders in Palagonia [village], not far from here,” commented Salvini, while speaking to the press.

The far-right Interior Minister added that the closure meant “more peace” in the area and for the local farmers, stressing that many among the 150 police forces deployed there would be now available for other tasks.

A number of employees from the CARA rallied outside the centre at Salvini’s arrival, to protest for the loss of jobs with banners and signs.

Mineo’s CARA hosted 4,173 asylum seekers at its peak in July 2014, but this number declined to 2,526 in 2018 and 152 this year. The closure was announced last month, at a time when Italy’s government took a tougher stance against migration. The remaining migrants were earlier transferred to minor centres.

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