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Lampedusa receives 800+ migrants amidst state of emergency

Thursday April 27, 2023



Mogadishu (HOL) - Two fishing boats with a combined 240 migrants and refugees aboard arrived in Lampedusa on Wednesday, increasing the total number of people reaching the small island to 821 in 15 separate landings since midnight. 

The fishing vessels, which embarked from Zuwara, Libya, carried passengers from a diverse range of countries, including Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestine, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. Additionally, Italian Coast Guard vessels rescued three smaller boats carrying a combined 146 migrants and refugees in the search and rescue area and escorted them to port. These boats had departed from Tunisia.

This ongoing crisis prompted Prime Minister Meloni to visit Addis Ababa earlier this month for a two-day trilateral meeting with Ethiopia and Somalia, urging Europe to increase aid and develop stronger ties with Africa. "We are working with African countries to ensure their voices are heard, and the proposed solutions are tailored to their needs," Meloni said.

Last year, in response to the overcrowding of the refugee identification center on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, the Italian Navy began relocating hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers. The island, situated closer to North Africa than mainland Italy, is a common destination for migrant smugglers based in Libya. These smugglers charge desperate people hundreds of dollars per person to cross the Mediterranean Sea on overcrowded and unsafe boats.
Italian authorities reported the rescue of nearly 1,000 migrants en route to Italy on April 16. In response to the increased number of arrivals, a new commissioner has been appointed to oversee their care. Valerio Valenti, the head of Italy's civil liberties and immigration department, has also been designated as the commissioner delegate to manage the state of emergency declared by Italian authorities two weeks ago.

Lampedusa has become a primary transit point for irregular migrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia seeking entry into Europe since the early 2000s. Tragic incidents have occurred as a result, such as the October 3, 2013, sinking of a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy off the coast of Lampedusa. Reports indicated that the boat had departed from Misrata, Libya, but many of the migrants were originally from Eritrea, Somalia, and Ghana. Over 500 people were believed to be aboard the 20-meter-long (66 ft) fishing boat.


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