Eight migrants, including a pregnant woman, were found dead aboard a boat off the Italian island of Lampedusa, local authorities announced Friday. "There are forty-two survivors, including two pregnant women," Filippo Mannino, mayor of Lampedusa, told the AFP agency.
Italian authorities escorted three other crashed boats carrying 156 people to Lampedusa, one of the main entry points for people trying to reach Europe. Rescue teams brought the survivors to the main port of Lampedusa, located in southern Sicily, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The island of Lampedusa, located a hundred kilometers east of the Tunisian coast, is the first gateway to Europe for migrants arriving from North Africa. In 2022, 105,000 people arrived in Italy clandestinely and about 5,000 arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, a number that has increased considerably compared to the last two years -67,477 in 2021 and 34,154 in 2020, according to the Ministry of the Interior .
The Italian government, formed in October by Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Italian party Fratelli d'Italia, fights by all means against clandestine arrivals and insists on including this issue on the agenda of the summit. In particular, Rome expects an automatic redistribution of newcomers, an idea that is met with strong resistance from many EU member states.
To at least try to curb arrivals, the government passed a law in early January that requires NGOs trying to help exile candidates to immediately report their ransoms so that they can be assigned a port of disembarkation. It is often far from the rescue site, which wastes a lot of time.
Immigration and the management of clandestine arrivals will be on the agenda of the next extraordinary summit of the European Union, scheduled for February 9 and 10.