Migrants rescued by Sea-Watch wait to disembark in Pozzallo, Italy, on October 23, 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/ANSA/FRANCESCO RUTA
Migrants rescued by Sea-Watch wait to disembark in Pozzallo, Italy, on October 23, 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/ANSA/FRANCESCO RUTA

Slightly more than 59,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy so far this year by crossing the Mediterreanean, according to Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese. About 79,000 people are currently being hosted in the national reception system.

While speaking before the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said on Wednesday (November 17) that 59,000 people had arrived in the country irregularly by crossing Mediterranean Sea so far this year.

Italy is among the European countries with the highest numbers of migrant and refugee arrivals due to its location -- across the Mediterranean from Libya and Tunisia, two major transit countries for Africans hoping to make it to Europe.

Lamorgese said that roughly 79,000 people were being hosted by Italy's national reception system: 639 are in the country's hotspots, 25,000 in the SAI reception and integration system and 53,000 in the CAS special reception system.

She said that the five regions host the largest number of migrants in the system are Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Lazio, and Sicily.

Lamorgese wants more collaboration with Libya, Tunisia

While speaking at the chamber, Lamorgese stressed that she wanted more support for migrant reception from the European Union (EU) and its member countries. She specifically called on the EU to make deals with North African countries that are departure points for migrants, "starting with Libya and Tunisia."

"Prime Minister Draghi himself has said that the EU must come to an agreement on the need for more substantial support for Libyan authorities to exercise greater control over departures," Lamborgese said.

Migration priority for Italian government

"Migration issues," Lamorgese told the chamber of deputies, "are a priority on the government's political agenda. The stabilization of Libya is a necessary condition: It is essential that the institutional transition in that country be implemented with the December 24 elections."

The fact that Italy and the European Union collaborate with Libyan authorities has long been controversial. Human rights advocates have repeatedly criticized that the Libyan coast guard receives financing from European authorities, in large part because migrants intercepted by the guards at sea are returned to a country where they face arbitrary detention, violence and blackmail.

 

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