More than a thousand migrants have landed in Italy in recent hours and hundreds of others are waiting on Saturday, July 23, on board humanitarian ships. More than 600 people trying to cross the Mediterranean on a fishing boat were rescued by a merchant ship and the coastguards off Calabria, in the far south of La Botte. They were landed in several ports in Sicily. The authorities also found on board five bodies of dead migrants in still undetermined circumstances.
On the island of Lampedusa, 522 people, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia in particular, arrived on the night of Saturday July 23 to Sunday July 24 on board about fifteen boats different, from Tunisia and Libya. According to the Italian media, the reception center of this small rock closer to Africa than to Italy is overwhelmed. With a capacity of about 300 people, it currently houses 1,200, says the ANSA agency.
Between 1er January and July 22, 34,000 people arrived by sea in Italy, compared to 25,500 in the same period of 2021 and 10,900 in 2020, according to the Interior Ministry. “The Mediterranean is becoming the biggest graveyard for the hopeless”reacted the president of the Sicily region, Nello Musumeci, in a press release.
Hundreds of migrants recovered by NGOs
According to the Italian media, the reception center of this small rock closer to Africa than to Italy is overwhelmed. With a capacity of about 300 people, it currently houses 1,200, says the ANSA agency. Migrants who manage to reach the coasts of Lampedusa or Sicily travel on old and overloaded skiffs, in deplorable sanitary conditions, often without life jackets, with meager food and, in this period, under a blazing sun.
The daily Sicily specifies that the last landings in Lampedusa saw ships with dozens, even hundreds of people on board, but also small inflatables. Thus four Tunisians, including a woman, were stranded in the night on the beach of Cala Pisana after crossing the small arm of the sea which separates Tunisia from the island. Simultaneously, the coastguards intercepted a 13-meter vessel, leaving Zawija in Libya, with 123 Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Egyptians and Sudanese on board.
In addition, sea rescue NGOs continue to recover hundreds of migrants lost in the Mediterranean. Sea-Watch announced on Sunday that it carried out four rescue operations on Saturday. ” On board of Sea-Watch 3, we have 428 people, including women and children, a nine-month pregnant woman and a patient with severe burns”she says on her Twitter account.
L’Ocean-Viking, from the NGO SOS Méditerranée, said he carried out two rescue operations during the day on Sunday. He initially recovered 87 people, including 57 unaccompanied minors, piled up on “an overcrowded rubber boat in distress in international waters off Libya”. Then 108 people, including many women and children, were found in similar conditions. The NGO states in a press release that “195 people are now being cared for on board theOcean-Viking ».
Lawsuit against former immigration minister
The Central Mediterranean migration route is the most dangerous in the world. The International Organization for Migration estimates the number of dead and missing there at 990 since the beginning of the year. This seasonal increase in arrivals during the summer coincides this year in Italy with a turbulent political context.
The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, dropped by several parties making up his government of national unity, has resigned. The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, has dissolved Parliament and fixed for September 25 elections for which the right and the extreme right are the favourites. Sunday morning on Twitter, Matteo Salvini, leader of the League (anti-immigration), deplored the arrival of “411 illegal immigrants in a few hours in Lampedusa”. “On September 25, Italians will finally be able to choose change: for the return of security, courage and border control”he wrote.
Mr. Salvini responds before the Italian courts to “sequestration” for illegally stranding 147 migrants at sea in 2019 in disastrous sanitary conditions, refusing them to disembark, when he was immigration minister. The next hearings are to be held in September before the Palermo court.