Last week, nearly 7,000 people arrived in Lampedusa, in just 24 hours.
It creates tension on the small island, where, after decades, residents are fed up with refugees seeking a better life in Europe ending up on their shores.
On Sunday, the President of the European Commission visited Ursula von der Leyen Al Jazeera with the Prime Minister of Italy Georgia Meloni. Meloni told islanders on the ground that the Italian government was working on a “strong response” to the crisis, including 50 million euros to help Lampedusa.
She said that the future of Europe is at stake here, adding:
-We are doing everything we can.
Ursula von der Leyen called on other member states to shoulder some responsibility.
– Irregular migration is a European challenge that needs a European response, said the European Union president, who presented a ten-point plan.
This includes, among other things, strengthening the European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) and the border agency Frontex, improving arrival control procedures and supporting the sending of asylum seekers to other EU countries. However, the EU burden-sharing plan has been met with resistance from many member states.
Requires a harder grip
The number of migrants making the perilous journey to Italy has doubled in the past year. The pressure on Italy in general and on Lampedusa in particular is now similar to the record recorded in 2016. The country then received 181,400 migrants, according to United Nations statistics.
According to the Italian Red Cross, there are currently 1,500 migrants in the immigration center in Lampedusa, which has a capacity of only 400.
The organization says that transfers of migrants to the mainland and to Sicily are not keeping pace with the arrival of new migrants.
Meloni wants tougher measures and is also calling for a naval blockade to prevent refugee smugglers’ boats from leaving the port. The Italian Interior Minister on Saturday participated in a video conference with EU colleagues from Germany and Spain, among others, to find a common line, after Germany temporarily halted an asylum settlement with Rome on Wednesday.
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