The bodies of eight migrants, including a pregnant woman, have been found aboard a boat rescued in the Mediterranean by the Italian coastguard, Filippo Mannino, mayor of the island of Lampedusa, told AFP on Friday.
The Coast Guard recovered “eight bodies, five men and three women, one of whom was pregnant, on Thursday evening. There are 42 survivors, including two pregnant women,” Mannino said.
“I lost count of the dead. I have been mayor for six months and I have already received at least 40 deaths. This is not normal, almost every week we recover corpses,” he lamented.
The island of Lampedusa is a rock of 20 km2 located about a hundred kilometers east of the Tunisian coast, in the heart of the Mediterranean and represents the first gateway to Europe for migrants arriving from North Africa.
Italy has for years been one of the main gateways for immigration by sea from Africa to Europe, with a record 180,000 arrivals in 2016.
In 2022, around 105,000 migrants arrived in Italy and nearly 5,000 since the start of the year, a figure up sharply compared to the same period of the two previous years, indicates the website of the Ministry of Interior
The subject of immigration and the management of the flow of migrants will be on the agenda of the next extraordinary summit of the European Union scheduled for February 9 and 10.
“The situation is becoming really dramatic. Europe must do something, the government must do something,” stressed the mayor of Lampedusa.
Italy, led since October by the right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni, is fighting by all means against the arrival of migrants and has insisted on putting this topic on the agenda of the summit to seek greater support from other EU countries.
Slow down arrivals
Rome hopes in particular to obtain an automatic redistribution of migrants arriving on its territory, an idea which comes up against strong resistance from many EU countries.
In an attempt to at least curb arrivals, the government adopted in early January a new, restrictive law on the activities of NGOs that rescue immigrants at sea.
The ships of these NGOs must thus inform the Italian authorities as soon as they have rescued a boat and the latter then decide on the port where survivors and rescuers must dock.
It is quite often a distant port from the site of the rescue operation.
In this way, NGOs cannot rescue several boats in several operations and lose a lot of time going to assigned ports and returning to the high seas.
This law has also been criticized by several bodies of the Council of Europe.
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