Boat carrying nearly 370 migrants reaches Italy’s Lampedusa

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Migrants wait onboard the Sea-Watch 4 civil sea rescue ship, that is waiting for permission to run into a port, on sea between Malta and Italy, on August 30, 2020. - More than 350 migrantes are onboard the Sea-Watch 4, after it took more than 150 people from the German-flagged MV Louise Michel rescue vessel funded by British street artist Banksy. Sea-Watch 4, which has rescued 201 migrants before and is itself in search of a host port, decided to help the Louise Michel "in the face of the lack of reaction" from the authorities, a spokesman for the German NGO Sea-Watch, which charters the boat with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), told AFP. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes / AFP) / Germany OUT

ROME (Italy) _ A fishing boat carrying nearly 370 migrants landed overnight on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where the main holding centre is already overcrowded, prompting the local mayor to call for a general strike to push the government take action.

Italy has been struggling in recent months to deal with daily arrivals of hundreds of migrants to its southern shores, a task complicated by security measures imposed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The boat carrying 367 people, which was in danger of sinking due to high winds, was escorted by the Italian coast guard and police to the island’s port, ANSA news agency said.

They were met at the port by a demonstration organised by the far-right, anti-immigrant League party.

The new arrivals, including 33 children and 13 women, were taken to an emergency reception centre on the island which now houses some 1,160 people, 10 times its maximum capacity, Lampedusa‘s mayor, Toto Martello, told ANSA.

Martello called for a general strike on the island on Monday, to protest the national government’s “frightening silence” on the issue.

Lampedusa can no longer cope with this situation. Either the government takes immediate decisions or the whole island will go on strike. We can’t manage the emergency and the situation is now really unsustainable,” Martello had earlier told ANSA.

“If a fishing boat of this size with hundreds of people arrives here and nobody notices it, it means that there are no controls in the Mediterranean. But what do the military vessels do? We are not at war, why not use them for security interventions at sea and to transfer migrants,” Martello said.

About 30 other small boats, mostly from the Tunisian coast, had already reached the island since Friday carrying around 500 migrants, the Italian media reported. _ AFP


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