Almost 4,000 new migrants landed in Lampedusa on Friday and Saturday. In Sicily, 1,301 people have been observed in recent days. In the Calabrian Sea, in the last 24 hours, 600 migrants have finally been rescued in the Mediterranean Sea. These figures do not include the dead and missing. According to the International Organization for Migration in 2022, 1,417 migrants may have disappeared in the Mediterranean Sea, probably drowned.
The results, according to the website of the Italian Interior Ministry, show that the number of immigrants in Italy has tripled in the first months of 2023. Frontex also reports an increase in arrivals on the Central Mediterranean route.
The observation comes as the influx of refugees has raised tensions between national authorities in the countries concerned and NGOs that patrol the seas to spot drowning migrants.
On Saturday, SOS Méditerranée accused the Libyan coastguard of putting its crews and migrants on board the Ocean Viking at risk.
SOS Méditerranée writes that a Libyan Coast Guard patrol boat “came dangerously close to the Ocean Viking” on Saturday morning after a boat was alerted to distress in international waters off Libya and an NGO ambulance ship was approaching it. A press release.
Occupation by the Libyan Coast Guard
“All attempts by the bridge crew to contact the Libyan Coast Guard building via VHF went unanswered, while the Libyan Coast Guard crew began to behave aggressively, firing weapons and firing several shots into the air,” the Marseille-headquartered NGO continued.
The NGO Sea Watch – which denounced the facts in a separate press release – was able to find people who fell overboard from the inflatable boat and were later rescued, thanks to its aircraft.
According to SOS Méditerranée, around 80 people were eventually intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and returned to Libya.
Already in January, the Libyan Coast Guard disrupted the rescue mission of the Ocean Viking, “knowingly endangering the lives of people in distress at sea by preventing the search and rescue team on board (…) the lifeboat returns to the main ship,” the NGO asserts.
By the end of 2022, associations working in the sector estimate that around 100,000 people have been intercepted since the signing of an agreement with Libya in 2017, which agreed to train the Libyan coast guard and intercept migrants by Italy and the European Union. Leave this destabilized country behind, but it’s only 300 kilometers from the Italian coast.