The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, urged the Member States this Sunday to “redouble their efforts” to reach an agreement on the EU’s migration policy after the shipwreck off the southern coast of Italy in which they lost their lives at least 59 migrants, according to provisional figures from the Crotone City Council.
During the day the tragic count has been increasing and it is not ruled out that more bodies will be recovered in the next few hours. About 80 survivors managed to reach the beach of Steccato, town of Cutro (province of Crotone), where they are being attended by emergency teams from early in the morning. A hundred people were traveling on the boat, according to the authorities.
The Italian news agency Ansa detailed that among the deceased there are at least 20 minors, one of them a baby and a set of twins. He also reported that the body of a 9-year-old girl has been found on the shore where remains of the barge continue to arrive.
The testimonies of the shipwreck
The survivors have explained to the Italian authorities that the precarious fishing boat in which they were traveling broke in half and many of its passengers were shipwrecked, since the sea was rough. The boat apparently hit some rocks before the migrants could call for help.
While the relief work progresses, the authorities are questioning the survivors to find out the circumstances of the accident and the origin of the migrants, who according to the local press are mostly from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The immigration crisis back at the center of the national debate
The latest shipwreck comes just days after Parliament approved new and controversial regulations for the rescue of immigrants promoted by the government, dominated by the extreme right.
Among other issues, the regulation obliges to request the assignment of a port after the first rescue of a group of migrants and to go to that location without deviating to locate other vessels in danger. Which, according to critics, increases the risk of death in the central Mediterranean, considered the most dangerous journey in the world for migrants.
In addition, NGOs have repeatedly denounced that for months the Italian authorities have been assigning far away ports, in the north and center of Italy, which take up to four and five days to arrive, neglecting their operations in the central Mediterranean area, where Most of these types of boats are wrecked.
The head of government, Giorgia Meloni, leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy (FDI) party, took over a coalition executive in October after promising to reduce the number of migrants arriving in Italy.
Italy’s situation makes it a prime destination for asylum seekers crossing from North Africa to Europe, and Rome has long complained about the number of arrivals on its territory.
According to the Interior Ministry, almost 14,000 migrants have disembarked in Italy since the beginning of the year, up from around 5,200 in the same period last year and 4,200 in 2021.
However, NGOs transport only a small percentage of the migrants who want to reach Europe, most of whom are rescued by coast guard or navy ships. For its part, the government accuses NGOs of stimulating the arrival of migrants and encouraging traffickers.
Source: Euronews Español