Italian coast guard crews help a child to disembark from a rescue boat at Roccella Harbor, southern Italy on November 28, 2021 | Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Valeria Ferraro/SOPA Images/ZUMA Press Wire
Italian coast guard crews help a child to disembark from a rescue boat at Roccella Harbor, southern Italy on November 28, 2021 | Photo: picture-alliance/dpa/Valeria Ferraro/SOPA Images/ZUMA Press Wire

The Italian coast guard rescued nearly 250 migrants, including a newborn baby, from a fishing boat drifting a few miles off the Calabrian coast at the weekend. The rescue operation was complicated by rough weather conditions.

The rescue was carried out overnight on Saturday and Sunday and lasted more than 16 hours due to difficult weather and sea conditions, the Italian coast guard said in a statement.

A total of 244 people were brought to safety, including 41 minors. One of the children was a newborn baby that had been born on the fishing boat on Saturday.


Only a few days before, on November 25, the Italian coast guard had rescued 296 migrants from distress at sea some 14 miles from the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa. Their boat had run into difficulties in rough waters, and some of the people were floating in the water when rescue units arrived.

Italy has seen a sharp increase in migrant boat arrivals in recent weeks despite colder weather in winter months. The so-called Calabrian route from Turkey to the southern Italian mainland in particular is becoming increasingly frequented. The Associated Press (AP) reported last week that the Calabrian route has witnessed almost a four-fold increase in arrivals in 2021. It now makes up 16% of the sea arrivals in Italy. 

Also read: Italy: Sharp increase in new migrant route to Calabria

More arrivals in 2021, more families with children

Arrivals to Italy have increased overall: According to data from the Italian Interior Ministry, some 62,236 migrants have landed in Italy so far in 2021 (by sea) compared to 32,542 in the same period last year.

Whereas single men used to account for most migrants coming to the country, "right now on all the routes, what you are seeing is an increase in the number of families arriving with lots of children. And that is true also for the route to Calabria," UNHCR representative Chiara Cardoletti recently told AP.

UNHCR data from November 28 shows that 18.9% of arrivals in Italy this year were minors (girls and boys), and 7.1% were adult women. The top three countries of origin are reportedly Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt.

The Italian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Mario Draghi is eager to secure an agreement with its European Union partners over how to deal with the rising migrant numbers.

With Reuters, dpa

 

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