Sun, 24 Sep 2023

Rome [Italy], September 17 (ANI): A newborn baby was found dead on a boat carrying people to Lampedusa even as dozens of the island's citizens protested over a surge in arrivals, reported Al Jazeera citing ANSA News Agency.

The Italian Coast Guard found the baby, saying that it was born during the journey and was found during a rescue operation.

Reportedly, around 126,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy in 2023, which shows that the number has also doubled as of 2022.

According to Al Jazeera, Lampedusa has seen thousands of landings this week alone, more than the island's permanent population. It has further triggered appeals for help from local politicians.

Moreover, earlier this week, a five-month-old baby boy drowned during another rescue operation off Lampedusa after a boat carrying migrants and refugees across the sea from North Africa capsized.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accepted the invitation from Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to visit the island, according to an EU official.

Meloni has urged the EU to relieve the pressure after thousands of people landed by boats over three days this week on Lampedusa, just 145km (90 miles) off the coast of Tunisia, reported Al Jazeera.

The recent surge in arrivals has reignited the debate over how Europe shares responsibility for asylum seekers.

EU Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer took to social media platform 'X' to post,"President von der Leyen will be travelling to Lampedusa tomorrow on the invitation of Italian PM Melon."French minister Gerald Darmanin posted on X that interior ministers of France, Germany, and Italy, along with some EU representatives, discussed migrant issues during a meeting over the telephone on Saturday.

As Lampedusa is close to the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax, it has been one of the main destinations for North Africans trying to reach European shores.

The Interior Minister on Friday stated that Germany has decided to keep taking in migrants and refugees arriving in Italy. The statement came two days after the ministry announced the suspension of a voluntary agreement with Rome to receive new arrivals, Al Jazeera reported.

Further, dozens of Lampedusa residents staged protests on Saturday against a plan to build a new tent camp to host people arriving on boats.

One of the protesters said, "I have two children at home. In the past years, I did not care about this issue. But now I have an instinct of protection for my children because I don't know what will happen to Lampedusa in the future.""Lampedusa says stop! We don't want tent camps. This message is for Europe and for the Italian government. Lampedusa residents are tired," another protester said, according to Al Jazeera. (ANI)

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