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Italy declares state of emergency over migrants

April 11, 2023

After a surge in the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, Italy declared a six-month state of emergency. The country admitted it wouldn't solve the problem but said it would make repatriations easier.

Migrants just arrived in the Southern Italian port of Brindisi receive the first aid
More than four times the number of migrants have arrived in Italy in the first few months of the year compared to the same period in 2022Image: ANSA/ZUMA/picture alliance

The Italian government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday to deal with the "sharp rise" of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.

It will last for about six months and provide €5 million (roughly $5.45 million) to regions dealing with crisis in the south of Italy.

The money is supposed to fund setting up new reception centers for migrants, while declaring the emergency should make it easier for Giorgia Meloni's right-wing government to repatriate those not allowed to stay in Italy faster.

"Let it be clear, we are not solving the problem, the solution can only depend on responsible intervention by the European Union," Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said.

More than 31,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, interior ministry data shows, up from around 7,900 in the same period last year.

Some 2,000 migrants reach Lampedusa over Easter

Italy's ANSA news agency around 2,000 people arrived by boat on the Italian island of Lampedusa off the North African coast over the long Easter weekend. As the winter weather eases the volume of crossings tends to increase in the northern hemisphere's summer.

The Italian coastguard rescued around 800 people off fishing boat off the coast of Sicily.

They were also bringing about 400 people aboard a second boat ashore.

Yet another boat boat carrying about 400 migrants is adrift off Malta, the NGO Sea-Watch Italy told DW on Tuesday.

"Our aerial monitoring mission…have sighted a yet other about 400 people in distress at sea in a big fishing boat in the Maltese search and rescue area," Giorgia Linardi, a spokeswoman for Sea-Watch Italy told DW.

She said the NGO was concerned over the state of emergency because it, "may mean more summary expulsions of people from Italy without a careful assessment of their asylum claims."

lo/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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