Eight people are missing and a two-year-old migrant girl dies after a boat sinks in waters off Lampedusa. Forty-two people were successfully rescued.
A tragic incident unfolded in the central Mediterranean as a boat carrying approximately 50 individuals sank off the coast of Lampedusa. The sinking resulted in the death of a two-year-old girl and left eight people missing, as reported by Italian authorities.
On Monday, the Italian coastguard, assisted by a local fishing vessel, successfully rescued 42 individuals, including the young child. Regrettably, the toddler passed away while being transported to Lampedusa. The nationality of the deceased child has not been disclosed.
Survivors’ accounts indicate that eight individuals remain unaccounted for, prompting ongoing search and rescue operations involving boats and helicopters. Among the missing, two children are reportedly included.
Surge in migrant arrivals at Lampedusa
Lampedusa has experienced a surge in migrant arrivals, with 11 vessels carrying around 800 people landing on Monday alone. Notably, a shipping trawler brought 576 people from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. This surge occurs in a year marked by a significant increase in migrant arrivals in Italy, with 150,000 individuals arriving compared to approximately 94,000 during the same period in 2022, according to the latest interior ministry data.
Addressing the escalating humanitarian crisis, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced plans to establish centres in Albania for asylum seekers, characterising it as an “historic” deal. The agreement involves creating Albanian centres capable of accommodating up to 3,000 people, with only those rescued at sea by Italian boats being transferred to Albania. Minors, pregnant women, and vulnerable individuals rescued at sea will continue to be transferred to Italy.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani revealed today the government would present a bill to parliament soon to ratify the agreement with Tirana, emphasising that migrants would receive treatment in line with Italian and European regulations.
However, the European Union expressed surprise at Italy’s deal, seeking more information. European Commissioner Ylva Johansson stated that an initial assessment suggested the agreement did not violate EU law as it fell outside the EU’s jurisdiction.
Criticism from aid workers and NGOs followed, characterising the agreement as a “further blow” to EU solidarity. Despite this, Tajani defended the accord, asserting that there is no outsourcing of asylum application processing to a third country, and internationally guaranteed rights are upheld.
The central Mediterranean route remains perilous, recognised as the world’s deadliest migration route, with thousands perishing during the perilous crossing. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), almost 2,200 people have died or gone missing in the current year while attempting the journey.