Italian Declares State Of Emergency To Address Migrant Boats
In response to an increase in the number of migrants leaving North Africa to cross the Mediterranean, Italian ministers declared a six-month state of emergency.
The decision, which coincides with the arrival of 3,000 migrants in three days, releases €5 million (£4.4 million) in funds.
The Italian island of Lampedusa has seen several boat land, and the coast guard has saved about 2,000 people since Friday.
On a fishing boat off the coast, 400 people are still waiting for assistance.
Despite efforts by Italy’s right-wing coalition government to crack down on irregular migration, the number of migrants arriving in the country has increased significantly in comparison to the same period last year.
Two migrant boats capsized off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday, leaving at least four people dead and more than 20 others missing. ResQship, a German aid organization, claimed to have taken 22 people to Lampedusa after saving them from the water.
The majority of migrant boats now leave from Tunisia, and the disaster on Saturday was just the most recent in a string of incidents off the coast. Sfax, a port in Tunisia, is 185 kilometers (115 miles) away from Lampedusa.
Nello Musumeci, the minister of the sea and civil protection, mentioned a 300% increase in migrant flows and called it an “absolute emergency” that had endangered Italy’s infrastructure. “What we are discussing is a brand-new phenomenon. The islands cannot handle this emergency on their own,” the minister emphasized. Declaring a state of emergency would not resolve the issue. The European Union needed to act responsibly in this situation.
It is unclear how the Italian initiative will address the growing numbers in the Mediterranean, outside of additional funding, but reports indicate that officials will be able to expedite the reception process and the repatriation of those not permitted to stay in Italy.
Two boats are being escorted by the Italian coast guard in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Sicily.
According to the coastguard, one of the boats carrying 400 people is thought to have left from Tobruk, Libya, and the rescue effort was being hampered by rough seas.
It was last found on Tuesday in the Ionian Sea east of Sicily by an unofficial hotline for migrants called Alarm Phone.
About 800 people are on board a second boat that is also being escorted by the coast guard. Unknown from where the boat departed, the Italian coastguard reported that it was packed.
When the boat was discovered adrift in Maltese waters on Sunday, an urgent alarm was first raised with the authorities of Italy, Greece, and Malta, according to Alarm Phone.
German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch International reported that while the boat was in Maltese waters, Malta had ordered two nearby merchant vessels not to assist in rescue operations. Instead, one of the ships was permitted to deliver water and fuel to it.
According to The Malta Independent and the Malta Armed Forces, “no rescue was requested by the people on board.”