The number of migrants who arrived in Italy has increased this year, according to Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese. The minister believes that the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation particularly complicated.
Lamorgese said on Tuesday that nearly three times as many migrants were tracked entering Italy over the past 11 months, compared to the 11 months before that. She was speaking in front of the parliamentary commission for constitutional affairs.
So far this year, there were 32,000 migrants who arrived in Italy, Lamorgese told the House panel.
Deportations to Tunisia
Lamorgese also addressed repatriations and deportations. According to the interior minister, 2,988 migrants were send back to their home countries. More than half of them -- 1,564 --- were Tunisian, she said. (A reported 38.7% of migrants who arrived in 2020 have been Tunisians.)
She said that deportations to Tunisia had increased significantly after ''the Italian agreement with Tunisian authorities." Specifically, she said, 1,200 people were transferred after the deal was reached, which allowed "ten additional flights to the usual two that are scheduled every month."
Call for EU-Africa deals
The minister went on to say that "in Europe I have asked for agreements at a European level with African countries to have more strength on repatriations."
Ahead of a meeting with Tunisian authorities that could take place in December, the interior ministry has proposed to the North African country to cooperate by alerting Italian ships and aircrafts of migrant departures from Tunisian waters so authorities can rescue them. "Once they arrive, we organize repatriations," she said.
The minister went on to say that regular migration flows "should be incentivized at a government level to decrease the relevance of criminal networks trafficking human beings."
Lamorgese told the parliamentary commission that dealing with migrant arrivals had been made ''more complicated'' by the COVID-19 emergency.
She said Italy currently has five quarantine ships on the coasts of Sicily with 2,730 migrants aboard. As of November 17, 9% of people on quarantine ships tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while 1.56% tested positive in hosting centers and 0.98% in facilities of the SIPROIMI (system of protection for those with international protection status and unaccompanied foreign minors), where there are 20,000 people.