More than 8,000 migrants departing from Tunisia disembarked on the Italian island of Lampedusa in mid-September, overwhelming reception facilities that have no lack of experience with such occurrences. The “scenes of chaos” that followed the arrivals have been widely documented in recent days, and form part of a wider context of controversial migration agreements signed by the European Union – notably with Tunisia – and the Italian government’s severe crackdown on NGOs involved in rescuing migrants at sea. Since the beginning of the year, almost 130,000 people – notably Guineans, Ivorians and Tunisians – have arrived in Italy by sea, twice as many as at the same time last year.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, visited Lampedusa on 17 September to show support on behalf of the European Union and Italy for the island’s inhabitants. They announced a European plan to deal with the increase in migrant arrivals, with an agreement on the European Pact on Migration and Asylum still under discussion between the 27 EU Member States after four years. – Adrian Burtin
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