To deal with the recent influx of migrants arriving on the southern shores of Italy, the country's right-wing government has announced a six-month nationwide state of emergency.
According to a report in the Associated Press, the declaration is aimed at reducing congestion at an overwhelmed migrant shelter on a tiny Italian island in the Mediterranean, and the government has approved initial funding of 5 million euros. The Italian government also stated that "new structures, suitable both for sheltering as well as the processing and repatriation of migrants who don’t have the requisites to stay" are needed.
Since the beginning of this year, around 31,000 migrants have disembarked in Italy, either rescued by Italian military boats or charity ships, or reaching Italy without assistance, which is almost four times the number for the same period in each of the two previous years. The majority of these migrants arrive in Italy through unseaworthy vessels launched by smugglers from northern African shores.
The migrant shelter on the Italian island of Lampedusa, meant to accommodate 350-400 people, has been overwhelmed, with recent days seeing as many as 3,000 people staying in the facility. Italian authorities have chartered empty commercial ferries to transfer hundreds of them to Sicily or the mainland. Many of the migrants are women with small children or unaccompanied minors.
The largest number of migrants arriving so far this year are from Ivory Coast, followed by people from Guinea, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Bangladesh, according to the Interior Minister's tally. Meloni's government has pressed for more solidarity from fellow EU countries, which often do not make good on pledges to accept some of the asylum-seekers hoping to find relatives or work in northern Europe. The state of emergency enables the Cabinet to mandate coping measures by decree, temporarily bypassing the usually long parliamentary process for funding and regulations.
[Information from the Associate Press]