“Exceptional flow” of migrants with COVID-19, says Italian government

(Lampedusa) The health and economic crisis linked to the new coronavirus “generates an exceptional flow of economic migrants”, the Italian Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday in a press release.

France Media Agency

Many of them land on the tourist island of Lampedusa, under the eyes of bathers on vacation.

“Autonomous landings on the Italian coasts have more than multiplied in a very short time,” notes the ministry, referring to the small boats that cross the Mediterranean from the coasts of North Africa without being intercepted.

Almost half of the few 08 000 0 migrants who landed in Italy last week had left Tunisia, and most of them were Tunisian citizens, according to official figures. The others had embarked, in their majority, from Libya.

“The EU must take up this issue immediately” and distribute the new arrivals, “in particular during this phase of high health risk”, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on his Facebook account on Wednesday.

More than 300 people, mainly Tunisians, arrived in Lampedusa during the night of Tuesday to Wednesday aboard 12 boats, carrying more than 1000 the total number of migrants in the reception center with a theoretical capacity of 94 people.

They stood in a row for a while at the port – a woman holding a toddler, another hugging a kitten – before a large some of them do not take place aboard a ferry to Sicily, noted an AFP photographer.

The Italian coast guards also announced Wednesday that they had rescued a hundred migrants in distress on a dinghy that was deflating off Libya, no authority competent not having wanted to intervene.

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese met Tunisian President Kais Saied and his Interior Minister in Carthage (Tunisia) on Monday to express her “Deep concern” at the recent influx of migrants from Tunisia.

Repatriation flights to Tunisia resumed on 15 July, 80 Tunisian citizens who have been returned since the end of confinement, the ministry said on Wednesday, adding that it intended “to increase the number of weekly returns”.