Migrants on a wooden boat before they are rescued by the crew of the Ocean Viking on August 27, 2022 | Photo: Jeremias Gonzalez/AP Photo/picture alliance
Migrants on a wooden boat before they are rescued by the crew of the Ocean Viking on August 27, 2022 | Photo: Jeremias Gonzalez/AP Photo/picture alliance

Italy is scrambling to address overcrowded migrant shelters after scores of boats carrying a total of about 1,000 migrants reached its southern shores and the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria over the weekend.

Rescue ships have saved hundreds of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean sea in several operations over the weekend.

The crew of the private aid organization SOS Méditerranée announced it had almost 470 migrants on board its vessel Ocean Viking following several operations. In one of its rescues, the organization said it had spotted overcrowded wooden and inflatable boats in the Maltese rescue zone. The migrants, many who did not have a life jacket, were "emotionally and physically exhausted," the organization tweeted on Sunday (August 28).


Doctors Without Borders, meanwhile, said one of its rescue vessels, Geo Barents, saved 25 migrants, including five minors, from a small boat in distress in international waters near Libya on Saturday night. German organization Resqship had rescued 60 rescued migrants onboard the Nadir sailboat on Friday. The group has said it was waiting for a safe port.

Small Italian island of Lampedusa sees overcrowding in migrant facilities

Italian authorities rushed to prepare already overcrowded migrant shelters after scores of migrant boats carrying a total of about 1,000 migrants reached its southern shores and the islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria. The migrants were either unaided or assisted by Italian coast guard vessels.

Several of the small boats held as few as eight passengers while others held around 100 passengers, according to Italian authorities.

Most of the migrants departed from the coasts of North Africa, for example from Libya or Tunisia, to reach the European Union (EU) via the Mediterranean.

At least 92 migrants reached Puglia in the south of mainland Italy, most of them came from Afghanistan, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Nearly 50 boats arrived between Friday night and Saturday on Lampedusa, according to Italian state radio. The disembarkation of hundreds of migrants from the boats has caused the residence temporarily housing rescued migrants on Lampedusa to quickly become overcrowded. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said the residence was hosting 1,500 asylum-seekers, nearly four times its capacity.

Italy has said it would take several migrants from Lampedusa and ferry them to Sicilian migrant residences to lessen crowding on the small island's facility.

With AP and DPA

 

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