The Italian government indicated this week that it would request a blockade over the recent flow of thousands of migrants onto its territory. The move comes over pressure regarding the small island of Lampedusa, which has seen more than 10,000 migrants arrive from Africa in recent weeks.
The small island has received the migrants despite having a permanent population of just 6,000. Some of the migrants have been moved to Sicily or other regions, but the flow is raising considerable concern.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called on the European Union to impose a blockade to stop the ongoing wave of migrants, stating that the continent was at stake.
“What is at stake is the future of Europe because the future of Europe depends on its capacity to deal with the huge challenges of our time,” she said.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her daughter receive threats from migrants amid Lampedusa migrant surge https://t.co/Q9XzgYTWbf
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 21, 2023
Meloni has received some support for the proposal, including from the German interior minister. Germany has pledged to take some of the migrants in after an initial denial.
French President Emmanuel Macron also stated that the current situation must be handled through a “European-level” response.
The Italian government also approved detention plans for the migrants. The country’s Cabinet plans to send migrants who don’t qualify for asylum back to their original countries. Italy also extended its period of detention to 18 months, which is the most allowed under European Union rules.
Meloni said that these were “extraordinary measures” following the rush of migrants, which included 7,000 arrivals in Lampedusa in one day last week.
Italy and other European states have attempted to stem the flow of migrants from Africa. Meloni visited Tunisia earlier this year as part of a wider European Union promise of foreign aid in exchange for the North African nation attempting to stem the flow of migrants.
The arrivals on the small island are significant, but a small share of the 126,000 migrants estimated to have entered Italy so far this year. If the current pace continues, Italy will likely accept the most migrants in its history, greater than a previous 2016 high.