The Italian Coast Guard has rescued over 1,400 shipwrecked migrants in just 24 hours, as Italy faces a new wave of migrants arriving on its shores.
Hundreds of people are arriving by barge from North Africa and the Middle East, and over the past four days, some 4,000 migrants have been rescued upon arrival. However, distress calls from barges do not stop, and the situation on the Italian coast is becoming critical.
In response to this tragedy, Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party, has approved a decree law that will increase the penalties for those considered “traffickers” and those responsible for driving the barges. Under the new law, if arrested, they will be sentenced to 30 years in prison, compared to the five years previously legislated.
The situation in Lampedusa is also worrying, with about 3,000 people crowded into a centre with a capacity of 300. In the coming days, it will be possible to move some of them, but the hope is that the number will not be too high. Meanwhile, the Italian Coast Guard continues to work tirelessly to save lives and prevent more tragedies from happening.
One barge that sounded the alarm on Friday was rescued and escorted to the port of Crotone, Calabria. The patrol boat Dattilo took 584 other people to the port of Reggio Calabria, while two other Coast Guard boats rescued 379 people, who were then transferred to the Sicilian port of Augusta.
The victims of this tragedy come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, and Palestine. Among the deceased are two twins of a few years and a baby of less than one year. In total, 14 children have died so far, nine boys and five girls. The hope is that the new law will deter smugglers from taking advantage of desperate migrants and that the Coast Guard will continue to save as many lives as possible.
The Italian government has been criticized for its handling of the situation, with some accusing it of failing to provide adequate resources to help the migrants. The government has also been criticized for not doing enough to address the root causes of migration, such as conflict, poverty, and climate change.
Italy has been a key destination for migrants for many years, and the issue has become increasingly contentious in recent years. Some politicians have called for stricter border controls and tougher penalties for those who help migrants enter the country illegally. Others have called for more resources to be allocated to help migrants integrate into Italian society.
Regardless of the political debate, the reality is that thousands of people are risking their lives to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean in search of a better life. The hope is that the new law will help to prevent smugglers from taking advantage of their desperation and that more resources will be allocated to help them once they arrive in Italy.
Despite the fact that only two weeks have passed since what happened, the sea continues to bring back the bodies of those who could not be rescued.