On Monday night, almost 700 migrants arrived on a rusted fishing boat on the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, it was the highest capacity migrant ship to reach the island since 2016.
The 686 passengers were a wide mix of nationalities, with arrivals from Egypt, Chad, Morocco, Syria, Bangladesh, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Senegal. The boat, a 45-foot fishing vessel, left Zuwara, Libya and headed north to Lampedusa, where it was intercepted by Italian patrol boats and directed into port.
Five of the passengers were taken to a local clinic for medical treatment, the rest to the overcrowded immigrant reception center in Lampedusa. On Tuesday morning, another 117 migrants arrived in five more ships.
“After a few days of bad weather, the landings started again today in calm seas,” said local mayor Toto Martello to ANSA.
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, around 45,000 sea emigrants have arrived on the Italian coast this year – around six times as many as in the first nine months of 2019. At that time, then Interior Minister Matteo Salvini imposed complete closure of the Italian ports for migration, with one aggressive interpretation of the law used to deter or detain NGO rescue ships for migrants. This policy ultimately led to political and legal difficulties for Salvini: He is currently on trial for kidnapping because he refused to allow a migrant rescue ship to dock in Sicily in August 2019.
Picture above: Sara Prestianni / NoBorder Network / CC BY 2.0