Newborn baby found dead on migrant boat 

Saturday, September 16th, 2023 14:35 | By
Lampedusa has been overwhelmed by recent migrants crossings. PHOTO/Sky News
Lampedusa has been overwhelmed by recent migrants crossings. PHOTO/Sky News

A newborn baby has been found dead on a boat carrying migrants to the Italian island of Lampedusa during a rescue by the coastguard.

The infant died soon after being born during the voyage, it has been reported.

Earlier this week, a five-month-old boy drowned off Lampedusa after a boat carrying migrants from North Africa capsized.

It comes as Italy wrestles with a surge of arrivals, leading Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to issue a fresh call for a naval blockade.

The influx has become a major headache for Ms Meloni, whose right-wing government came to office in October last year pledging to curb illegal immigration.

Migrants' double figure

But nearly 126,000 migrants are reported to have arrived in Italy so far this year, almost double the figure by the same date in 2022.

It has close parallels to the situation confronting the UK government in stemming migrant crossings from France, with Rishi Sunak under pressure to deliver on his 'stop the boats' pledge.

Lampedusa - closer to Africa than the Italian mainland - has recently borne the brunt of crossings from Tunisia, which has replaced Libya as the main base for migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean.

Around 7,000 landed within a day, more than doubling the island's population, overwhelming existing facilities and triggering urgent appeals for help from politicians.

Many migrants have been transferred to relieve the island's over-stretched refugee centre, which has a normal capacity of around 400, but latest figures indicate more than 2,700 remain.

Deal on migrants

Ms Meloni has invited the head of the European Commission to see conditions on Lampedusa and called for a deal with Tunisia, aimed at stemming the flow in return for funding, to be implemented.

She also said she'd written to European Council President Charles Michel to ask for immigration to be on the agenda at an EU summit in October.

"I intend to reiterate a request for an immediate EU mission to block the departure of migrant boats," said Ms Meloni.

"Obviously, Italy and Europe cannot welcome this massive influx of people, especially when these migrant flows are being managed by unscrupulous traffickers."

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