Italy facing migrant surge: interior ministry

By: AFP      Published: 08:13 PM, 13 Jul, 2020
Italy facing migrant surge: interior ministry

Italy is facing a surge in migrants, with arrivals almost one-third higher so far this year than last, interior ministry data showed on Monday.

The country, which is struggling to recover from a devastating coronavirus crisis that has killed nearly 35,000 people, is now seeing hundreds of migrants arrive at its shores every day - desperate people it says it cannot accomodate without help from other European countries. 

This year, more arrivals are coming from Tunisia, with boats landing without assistance from the Italian coast guard or charity organisations.  

Most migrants land on the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily, while others make it to southern parts of the mainland.

More than 1,250 migrants arrived in the past three days,  according to the latest ministry figures, which were released as Italy held a conference with EU and African nations on the ongoing crisis.

Ministry figures showed that a total of 8,988 migrants have reached Italy so far this year, compared with 3,165 for the same period in 2019, but far fewer than the 17,296 migrants who arrived over the same time span in 2018. 

This year, the majority of migrants are Tunisian, followed by those from Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Algeria and Sudan, the data showed.

On Monday, interior ministers from Algeria, France, Germany, Italy, Libya Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia met via video conference to "strengthen cooperation between law enforcement agencies" through police training and funding technical equipment, Italy's interior ministry said in a statement.

New guidelines for dealing with the crisis will be implemented within a few months, it added.

The recent arrivals have sparked protests by locals in some areas, after a few dozen migrants tested positive for the coronavirus after disembarking.