Despite the recent devastating boat accidents, many migrants continue to dare to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy. In the past two days, more than 3,000 people have arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa alone, the Italian news agency Ansa reported on Sunday. A total of 1387 people reached the small island on Saturday. On Friday there were even 1778 people.
The immigrants, including many children, reached Lampedusa in several boats. The sea rescue ship "Louise Michel" and patrol boats from the Italian authorities came to the rescue of some boats. Further arrivals were also expected on Sunday.
Eight dead on Saturday
Eight people died on Saturday crossing the Mediterranean Sea into the EU. Two small boats were in distress near Malta - the eight bodies recovered were brought to Lampedusa by the Italian coast guard on Sunday night, as Ansa further reported.
Lampedusa Mayor Filippo Minnino, meanwhile, called for a joint European mission in the Mediterranean. "Europe and Italy must be aware that there is an emergency in the Mediterranean. Women, children and men continue to die," said the politician, according to Ansa.
Lampedusa is located between Sicily and North Africa, the island is almost 190 kilometers away from the Tunisian coastal town of Sfax. Many people keep trying to get to Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily or the Italian mainland by boat from Tunisia and Libya via the central Mediterranean.
34 people were missing after another boat accident off the coast of Tunisia on Saturday. The boat with dozens of migrants on board sank on Friday, a representative of the court in the city of Sfax said. Four people were saved. Boats have also had an accident in the past few days. The Tunisian Coast Guard recovered seven bodies, including four children and a baby.
Crossing in unseaworthy boats
Many migrants attempt the life-threatening crossing to Europe from Tunisia in often unseaworthy boats. It is considered a transit country for migrants from countries south of the Sahara. But there are also Tunisians among the many people who dare to cross to Italy. Many have wanted to leave Tunisia since President Kais Saied called for a tougher crackdown on migrants in February.
The arrival of thousands of migrants has been discussed in Italy for some time. The media are already talking about a "migrant boom" or "exodus from Tunisia". This sometimes leads to devastating boat accidents, such as at the end of February off the coast of Calabria with dozens of deaths. According to official figures, Italy has already registered more than 21,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January - in the two previous years there were around 6,000 at this time.