Why migrants are rushing to Italy!

Photo credit: Newsday

Over 120 small boats arrived in Lampedusa within 24 hours. It brings the number of people at the reception center to 7,000 which is 15 times its capacity and more than the island’s population.

PBS reports that over 127,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year. The number nearly doubles the number recorded for the same period last year.

Lampedusa is closer to North Africa than the Italian mainland. It has long been targeted by people smugglers. Tunisia is now the launching pad for people going to Europe. Lampedusa receives about 70 per cent of all the migrants arriving in Italy. This information was revealed by the spokesperson of the International Organization for Migration’s Mediterranean office, Flavio Di Giacomo.

Consecutive arrivals on the small island in a short period of time are making it difficult to manage. The migrants are continuously being transferred to the mainland where their asylum requests will be processed. Many of them are hoping to go to other parts of Europe to find work to reunite with relatives.

Arriving on the boats from Tunisia after crossing from Libya are Egyptians, Eritreans and people from Sudan. Most of them are young men and unaccompanied minors. Women and children are also included but in smaller numbers.

Mediterranean storm Daniel has forced smugglers in and around the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax to temporarily stop their operations for several days. This has created a bottleneck. As soon as there was an improvement in the weather, they launched over 100 small iron boats from Tunisian beaches. The boats were carrying between 30 and 40 people.

A senior press officer at the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Chris Borowski said “It’s a way of making sure more people get through the net and overwhelm the system.”

Traditionally, the end of summer also brings a rush in boat crossings as migrants try their luck before the harsher fall and winter weather.

However, there are other reasons. The socio-economic conditions in Tunisia is increasing with high inflation and joblessness. This has crippled bother Tunisians and foreigners living there.

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