ROME: Officials from the Italian Ministry of the Interior in charge of migration policies expect 30,000 migrants to arrive from Libya by the end of 2021, part of a total of 70,000 expected to reach the coasts of Sicily from the North African coastline.
As of June 1, the turnstile counter on the ministry’s dashboard read 14,412 arrivals from North Africa. The number is almost three times greater than the number of arrivals in the same period in 2020.
Only on Wednesday, 232 foreigners docked in the seaport of Roccella Jonica, in Calabria, the southern tip of the Italian boot.
The ministry is alarmed at the trend.
“The number of migrants who reached Italy in May amount to 5,399, compared to 1,654 who arrived in the same month last year — an enormous inflow. With weather conditions remaining favorable as we approach the summer, migrant crossings via the Mediterranean Sea will multiply. There is no doubt about it,” a spokesman for Minister Luciana Lamorgese told Arab News, commenting on the data.
The data projection of the Italian government, published to financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, shows that 30,000 migrants will come from Libya; 15,000 from Tunisia; 2,000 from Algeria; and 20,000 from the eastern Mediterranean area.
So far, about 9,000 migrants arrived from Libya, 2,500 of whom were transported by NGO ships operating in the Channel of Sicily, between the Italian and the North African shores.
Of the foreigners departed from Tunisia to Italy, only 2,000 were actually Tunisians: Bengali migrants outnumbered them, as Bangladesh ranks first in the list of the migrants’ countries of origin, with 2,500 arrivals.
The Ministry of the Interior, the Coast Guard, and the Finance Police are working around the clock on sea traffic and rescue operations at sea.
Issues related to migration were at the core of the two-hour-long meeting in Rome between Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Al-Dabaiba.
Draghi confirmed Italian support to the Libyan Coast Guard and called on the EU to focus its attention on and allocate resources to facing the issue.
On May 25, Italy delivered a 25-meter-long patrol boat, which was overhauled and refurbished in the Tunisian shipyards of Biserta, to the General Administration for Coastal Security authorities.
Lamorgese met with her Libyan counterpart Khaled al-Tajani Mazen at the ministry’s location in Rome.
She stressed the need to “ensure full respect of the migrants’ human rights” and referenced “the fight by the EU against criminal organizations responsible for human trafficking” and “the cooperation between the two ministries in security policies and counterterrorism.”
A few days ago, Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini traveled to Mali and Niger together with Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli, chief of the defense staff of the Italian Armed Forces, and Gen. Luciano Portolano, commander of the Joint Special Forces Operations Command, to offer help in stopping migration flows from Central Africa to the Libyan and Tunisian shores.
Italian Ministry of Defense sources confirm that Guerini plans to reinforce the small national military contingent already operating in Takuba, Niger.
It is understood that Italian soldiers will support the local regular army there with counterterrorism training and help them to stop human traffickers.