As the number of migrants arriving in Italy rapidly increases, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni proposes significant actions at the European Union (EU) level to curb departures from North Africa to Europe. According to the United Nations migration agency, approximately 8,500 migrants have reached the small island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean in 199 boats from Monday to Wednesday last week.
Mediterranean: A Call for European Cooperation
Prime Minister Meloni, in collaboration with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen during their visit to Lampedusa on Sunday, makes the proposal, which includes the potential implementation of a maritime blockade in North Africa to prevent human smuggling boats from reaching Europe. Meloni emphasizes that all parties share the same goal and should work together toward a “more serious, comprehensive, and sustainable solution.”
Mediterranean: Countering Human Smuggling
Ursula von der Leyen expresses her determination to combat the “brutal business” of human smuggling and states that undocumented migrants could be deported to their countries of origin if they do not meet the requirements for staying in the European Union.
“We will decide who comes to the European Union and under what circumstances,” von der Leyen declares, underlining that this authority should not lie with smugglers.
Overwhelmed Services on Lampedusa
The surge in new arrivals overwhelms several services on Lampedusa. In fact, the number of migrants who arrived last week exceeded the island’s population. Italy’s Red Cross reports on Sunday that around 1,500 migrants are still at the Lampedusa migration center, despite its capacity being limited to 400 people.
“Unregulated immigration is a European challenge that requires a European response,” von der Leyen emphasizes. She calls for increased air and sea monitoring in the Mediterranean, which could be coordinated through the EU border agency, Frontex.
The President of the European Commission also calls on other EU member states to accommodate some of the migrants.
Unprecedented Surge in Migrant Numbers
The number of migrants making the perilous journey to Italy has doubled compared to the previous year and is expected to reach record levels not seen since 2016. The situation calls for swift and coordinated action at the EU level to address the complex challenges posed by irregular migration in the Mediterranean.