wreath floating on the sea in commemoration of October 3rd 2013 massacre of migrants in boat fire.

North African migrant situation is “explosive” – Meloni

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Premier Giorgia Meloni said today the situation North African migrant situation was “explosive”. Almost 135,000 have arrived by boat this year.

The interior ministry said on Tuesday that 134,578 people have arrived in Italy so far this year via migrant-boat landings. That is almost double the 72,252 that arrived in the equivalent period in 2022.

The premier stressed the importance of the government’s Mattei plan to boost energy partnerships with African countries and cooperation in halting migrant flows.

“It is a strategic project that involves putting many things together – the development of African countries in the face of an explosive situation which makes governing migratory flows extremely difficult,” Meloni said at the Festival delle Regioni event in Turin.

Remembering the October 3rd Lampedusa shipwreck

“It means giving Italy back the role it has in the Mediterranean”. Meloni also added that Italy has a duty to put an end to the continuing massacre of migrants at sea.

“We remember today with deep emotion the tragic shipwreck at Lampedusa 10 years ago, in which 368 people lost their lives,” she said.

“Since then, too many tragedies have recurred to reach the coasts of Europe and it is our precise duty to put an end to this continual massacre, also by blocking the departure of makeshift vessels”.

It is the 10th anniversary of the shipwreck of October 3, 2013 in which 368 people, mostly Eritrean refugees, lost their lives.

Inter-religious commemorations

The commemorations began at 3.15 am. This was the time at which the fishing boat carrying over 500 people caught fire and sank just a few hundred meters from shore. It had set sail from Misurata in Libya two days earlier.

Archbishop of Agrigento Monsignor Alessandro Damiano and Catania Imam Kheit Abdelhafid led a moment of inter-religious prayer. This was followed by the reading of the names of the shipwreck victims to the haunting notes of the late Sicilian singer-songwriter Franco Battiato’s La Cura, sung by students.

Participants were then invited to throw flowers into the sea in a gesture of remembrance before heading to the commercial port. There they joined the coast guard and finance police for a wreath-throwing ceremony at the spot near Lampedusa’s Rabbit Island where the shipwreck took place exactly ten years ago.

“I want to extend a special welcome to the students present,” said Lampedusa Mayor Filippo Mannino during the ceremony at the Porta d’Europa monument.

“Now you have the difficult task of going back home and telling your friends and families, your schoolmates and your local administrators what happens here on Lampedusa, how Lampedusa continues to provide a lesson in humanity to Italy and the rest of Europe,” he continued.

“And we want people to arrive alive.”

The commemorations came after what have been a difficult few months for Lampedusa. The island has borne the brunt of the nearly 100% increase in sea arrivals to Italy so far in 2023 compared to the same period last year.

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