On Sunday, the 6th of August, the Italian coastguard stated that it has recovered two bodies and rescued 57 migrants off the southern island of Lampedusa after two reported cases of shipwrecks. According to the United Nations’ migration agency, citing survivors’ accounts, more than 30 migrants are still missing.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) cultural mediations spoke to the survivors. According to the survivors, two migrant boats had set off from the Tunisian city of Sfax’s port, reported Italy’s ANSA news agency. One of them was ferrying 48 migrants while the other had 42 migrants onboard. Both the rickety iron boats went down in stormy weather on Saturday while they were on their way to Europe.
The ANSA reported that the victims have been identified as a woman from Ivory Coast and her 18-month-old child. The Italian coastguard rescued the migrants nearly 46 kilometers southwest of Lampedusa Island.
The local media reports have claimed that a migrant boat crashed against rocks when it was near the Lampedusa coast on Friday. Since then, around 20 migrants had been stuck on Lampedusa’s Ponente rocks, however, the Italian coastguards were unable to reach them via sea or helicopter.
An NGO group known by the name Open Arms shared details about the migration problems faced in Italy. Taking to X (Twitter), they pointed out that after sailing for more than two days in rough seas, they were finally able to disembark 195 rescued sea migrants in the southern Italian port of Brindisi.
After 2 days on board and many hours of sailing in difficult sea and weather conditions, #OpenArms finally arrives at the port of #Brindisi (Italy), where the disembarkation of the 295 rescued people from the #Mediterranean will soon begin. #EveryLifeMatters #HumansBeingHumans… pic.twitter.com/1mo7EFC2wK
— Open Arms ENG (@openarms_found) August 6, 2023
The shipwreck incident comes in the wake of a stated policy of the Italian government which has drawn irk from several quarters. As per the policy, the Italian government has mandated to assign far-away ports to charity ships so that rescued migrants will not disembark at nearby Lampedusa or Sicily ports. This is done to spread migrant arrivals across the country.
As per a report in Reuters, the NGOs have criticised this decision stating that this increases their navigation costs, increases the chances of shipwrecks, and prolong the misery of migrant survivors.
According to reports, more than 2,000 migrants have reached Lampedusa in recent days. They have been rescued at sea by Italian patrol boats and non-governmental organization (NGO) groups.
Following the incident of two back-to-back shipwrecks, the Italian authorities in Agrigento have launched an investigation into this matter.
Agrigento’s chief of police Emanuele Ricifari stated that the traffickers would have known rough seas were forecast in the region and such individuals are crazy criminals.
He said, “Whoever allowed them or forced them, to leave with this sea is an unscrupulous criminal lunatic.”
He added, “Rough seas are forecast for the next few days. Let’s hope they stop. It’s sending them to slaughter with this sea.”
These shipwrecks come after the tragic boat disaster which was reported in June, this year. Back then, at least 78 migrants died and around hundreds were missing when a Greek boat capsized in the Mediterranean.
Despite tragic incidents of shipwrecks, Italy is witnessing a significant increase in sea migration. According to the latest data from the interior ministry, approximately 92,000 arrivals have been recorded so far this year. This is in contrast to the figure of more than 42,600 arrivals during the same period in 2022.