Italy Overwhelmed by Record-Breaking Migrant Arrivals

BARI, ITALY - DECEMBER 11: Migrants of Humanity 1 rescued at sea in recent days, greet and smile on December 11, 2022 in Bari, Italy. Italian authorities had referred it to the port on 9 December but the journey took more than 40 hours due to bad weather with rough …
Donato Fasano/Getty Images

ROME — A record-breaking number of illegal migrants arrived on Italy’s shores this weekend, leading Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to call an emergency meeting Monday to confront the situation.

On Saturday alone, 3,042 mostly African migrants arrived on the Italian peninsula and total arrivals for the year are over double the number from last year, Italy’s interior ministry reports.

As of Monday, Italy has registered 113,483 sea arrivals since January 1, compared with just 55,785 in the same period last year, the ministry reveals. The weekend’s totals surpassed 6,000 new arrivals with no signs of abating.

Euronews warned last week that Italy’s immigration crisis risks toppling the government of Giorgia Meloni, the country’s first female prime minister.

This year’s numbers are the highest since 2017 and could even surpass the prior yearly record of arrivals reached in 2016 with some 180,000 migrant arrivals over the 12-month period, Euronews noted.

In her opening speech to the Council of Ministers Monday, Meloni convened the Interministerial Committee for the Security of the Republic (Cisr) in order to “tackle the problem in a pragmatic way, with quick and coordinated decisions.”

Meloni also called for more efficient repatriation of clandestine immigrants and an investigation into “further legislative measures to combat illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings, and the consequences of irregular immigration in terms of public security.”

On the small Italian island of Lampedusa, an overwhelming 3,593 migrants currently reside in the island’s modest reception center (hotspot), including 193 unaccompanied minors, which risks provoking a true “humanitarian crisis,” Il Sole 24 Ore reported Monday.

The record-high numbers endure despite the recent departure of 947 migrants transferred off the island on military aircraft and ferries in an effort to alleviate the situation.

The crisis is not limited to Italy’s south, however. The mayor of Turin, Stefano Lo Russo, has also warned of an “unsustainable situation” brought on by the large numbers of arrivals.

“It is useless to deny it, the situation is certainly very complicated here too,” Lo Russo said. “Turin is giving a hand to this type of policy, but it is clear that in the long run it is not sustainable.”

Meanwhile in the northern city of Trieste, Mayor Roberto Dipiazza has spoken of an unprecedented “invasion of migrants.”

“Ugly, really ugly. I have been dealing with problems related to migrants since the 1990s, I have seen everything and more, but I could not imagine such a thing. The city is in an emergency,” he said.

TOPSHOT - Migrants of African origin trying to flee to Europe are crammed on board of a small boat, as Tunisian coast guards prepare to transfer them onto their vessel, at sea between Tunisia and Italy, on August 10, 2023. Mediterranean Sea crossing attempts from Tunisia have multiplied following a incendiary speech by the Tunisian president who had alleged that "hordes" of irregular migrants were causing crime and posing a demographic threat to the mainly Arab country. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP) (Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

Migrants of African origin crammed on board of a small boat, as Tunisian coast guards prepare to transfer them onto their vessel, at sea between Tunisia and Italy, on August 10, 2023. (FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)

According to Nicola Molteni, undersecretary for the Interior, a new plan has already been formulated to strengthen security with further regulation of immigration.

“The plan is already ready and rests on three key points,” Molteni said. “First, expedite the repatriation of dangerous and violent subjects with a high criminal profile. Second, strengthen and increase detention centers for repatriation. Third, revise the Zampa law on minors.”

The latter refers to legislation from 2017 that introduced a series of benefits for unaccompanied minors entering the country illegally, which some fear has only encouraged the phenomenon.


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