ROME: More than 600 people from Egypt and Morocco landed on Lampedusa on Saturday, according to the Italian Coast Guard, many with wounds and signs of beatings.
Such landings in the most southern part of Italy have increased over the past few days, as good weather holds in the Channel of Sicily, with most of them arriving on dinghies from Tunisia.
The Italian Coast Guard said that 400 were aboard a single vessel, which had departed from the shores near Libya. The boat was spotted Saturday morning by the Italian Guardia di Finanza and escorted to Lampedusa.
“This is one of the largest landings in recent days on the island,” a Guardia di Finanza spokesman told Arab News. “The migrants were completely overcrowded on the fishing boat. The situation of the boat was so worrying that, fearing it would capsize, we had to transfer them to several other boats to take them safely to the island’s dock.”
“Many of those on board show signs of violence and beatings they have suffered during their stay in Libya,” Alida Serrachieri, MSF medical director in Lampedusa, told the Italian news agency ANSA.
The latest arrivals have increased pressure on the island’s reception center, which now hosts nearly 1,300 people despite it only having room for about 250.
“Once again Lampedusa is preparing to carry the burden of humanitarian reception alone,” Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello told Arab News. “I am the first to say that we must support, at every level, the commitment of the international community in the face of the tragedy in Afghanistan. But it is also fair to remember that there are other territories and countries from where people are fleeing and trying to reach Europe through Lampedusa and Italy. We need to guarantee humanitarian corridors, managed by international institutions, for those populations too.”
He said the situation at the facility was becoming “more difficult” every day.
On Thursday, around 40 boats made it to Lampedusa in a 24-hour period and all those who were aboard were taken to the center which was “already more than full,” Martello added.
From the beginning of this year until last Monday, 35,593 people had landed in Italy, compared to 17,500 in 2020.
According to an August bulletin from the International Organization for Migration, 392 people had drowned since the beginning of the year and 632 had gone missing on the central Mediterranean route leading from Libya to Italy.
The same report added that the Libyan Coast Guard had intercepted 22,419 people so far this year, including 1,530 women and 803 minors, compared with 11,891 during the whole of 2020.