ROME (Reuters) – More than 600 migrants, many of them Egyptians, arrived in southern Italy over the past 24 hours, officials said on Sunday, defying stormy winter seas in search of a better life in Europe.
Italy has seen a sharp increase in boat migrants in recent weeks and the latest mass arrivals will put further pressure on Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government to secure an agreement with European Union partners over how to deal with the influx.
Coastguards rescued some 300 men and boys overnight who were packed on a fishing boat off the southern toe of Italy. The group, almost all Egyptians, were brought ashore to the nearby port of Roccella Jonica.
Hours later, some 212 mainly Egyptian and Syrian migrants were taken off a second boat and brought to Roccella Jonica.
Further to the south, 113 migrants, including at least eight women, reached the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in two different landings. Local media said some of the newcomers were Tunisian.
As of Nov. 12, 57,833 migrants have reached Italy so far this year against 31,213 in the same period of 2020 and just 9,944 in 2019.
Right-wing parties have accused the interior ministry of not doing enough to stem the flow.
Speaking after a conference on Libya on Friday, Draghi urged greater coordination with Europe to resolve the problem.
“What is certain, however, is that these continuous landings in Italy are making the situation unsustainable,” he told reporters, standing alongside French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Frances Kerry)