(Rome) More than 1,300 migrants were rescued on Saturday by the Italian Coast Guard and Navy from aboard overcrowded boats struggling in the central Mediterranean, less than two weeks after a deadly shipwreck off the coast of southern Italy, the emergency services announced.
These rescue operations were carried out on the same day as the discovery of the body of the 74e victim – a girl aged five to six – of the tragedy that occurred almost two weeks ago off the Calabrian town of Crotone, according to the AGI news agency.
Justice has opened an investigation into this tragedy, in particular to try to explain the too late arrival of relief. This sinking shocked Italy and aroused strong criticism against the far-right government of Giorgia Meloni elected on an anti-migrant line.
The coast guard and the Italian navy had dispatched several ships on Friday to come to the aid of three boats carrying several hundred migrants and spotted in the central Mediterranean, one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world.
On Saturday, 487 migrants were brought back safe and sound to the port of Crotone, relief workers said. Coastguard videos, released on Friday, showed some of them on the deck of a large fishing boat bobbing in rough seas.
Another rescue operation, in which 500 migrants were rescued aboard a coastguard vessel, was winding down, according to the same source. Ansa news agency previously reported that the ship, carrying 584 migrants, docked in the port of Reggio Calabria, a coastal city in the south of the Italian peninsula.
A third boat carrying 379 people was rescued by two coastguard patrol boats and the migrants transferred to a navy ship bound for the Sicilian port of Augusta.
At the end of a council of ministers relocated Thursday in the south of the country, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reaffirmed her government’s determination to fight against illegal immigration and smugglers.
A first outside Rome for the executive with a majority on the far right which, since taking office in October 2022, has multiplied the obstacles to the operations of humanitarian ships in the Mediterranean and engaged in a standoff with its European partners to obtain support. them more solidarity in welcoming migrants.
The Council of Ministers approved a new decree increasing the penalties for smugglers and creating a new crime punishable by 30 years in prison for those traffickers whose operations have resulted in the death or injury of their victims.
According to the Interior Ministry, 17,592 people have landed since 1er January in Italy, compared to 5,976 over the same period in 2022 and 5,995 in 2021, i.e. almost triple. The number of migrant arrivals via the Central Mediterranean route jumped 116% in January and February compared to 2022, according to Frontex.