European Commission President to Lampedusa after the arrival of thousands of migrants 4:59 PM Abroad Ursula von der Leyen will visit the island tomorrow at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Meloni.

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A boat carrying migrants arrives in Lampedusa
NOS News

Ursula von der Leyen will visit the Italian island of Lampedusa tomorrow, where a large number of migrants arrived last week. A spokesperson for the European Commission president reports that she is going there at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Meloni, who wants more support from the European Union to cope with the influx of migrants.

Last week, almost 200 boats carrying around 8,500 people arrived on the island in the Mediterranean on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. They had started their crossing in Tunisia, about 80 miles away.

Some 124,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year. That is still less than the record of 180,000 in 2016, but almost twice as many as last year around this period.

State of emergency

Volunteers and employees of organizations such as the Red Cross have distributed many thousands of meals and provided people with care in recent days. A registration center for migrants that can accommodate around 400 people is currently dealing with around 2,500 migrants, the Red Cross reports. A dead baby was found on board a boat during a rescue operation today.

Lampedusa, which has around 6,000 inhabitants, has declared a state of emergency. There are also demonstrations today in various places on the island against the establishment of an additional tent camp to accommodate migrants.

Consultation by phone

Prime Minister Meloni, who was elected last year with an anti-migration plan, among other things, is calling for an EU mission to block boats carrying migrants. According to Meloni, Von der Leyen’s visit is intended to personally show the Commission President what the current situation is in Lampedusa.

“It goes without saying that Italy and Europe cannot accommodate this enormous influx of people,” the Italian Prime Minister said. “Certainly not now that this migration flow is driven by unscrupulous human smugglers.”

Today there are telephone consultations between the Ministers of the Interior of Italy, France, Germany and Spain. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, is also participating in that conversation.

Tunisia deal

The problems in Lampedusa coincide with the discussion in Europe about the so-called Tunisia deal. Outgoing Prime Minister Rutte, Von der Leyen and Meloni concluded this migration deal with Tunisian President Saied in July. The intention is for Tunisia to stop the boats in exchange for almost a billion in loans and subsidies.

The deal has not officially gone into effect yet and Meloni wants that to happen as soon as possible. However, there are still many questions from various EU member states and the European Parliament about the approach to Tunisia. One of the questions is to what extent Saied’s government guarantees human rights. Since July, many stories have emerged about migrants being left behind in the desert.

A European Parliament delegation was also refused entry to Tunisia this week. Tunisia’s decision has been condemned from left to right as unwise. MEPs Thijs Reuten (PvdA) and Tineke Strik (GroenLinks) see this as proof that no agreements can be made with Tunisia and believe that the deal should be scrapped.

  • European Ombudsman also criticizes migration deal with Tunisia
  • Italian Red Cross raises the alarm: 6,000 migrants in Lampedusa
  • Tunisia deal mainly based on wishful thinking, say insiders
  • Abroad

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