European Union leader Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel to Italy in response to the increasing number of migrants arriving in the country.

On Sunday, European Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will pay a visit to Italy’s Lampedusa island. Italy’s right-wing government has urged the European Union for assistance in dealing with the increasing number of migrants.

After approximately three days, around 8,500 individuals reached the island by boat, prompting Meloni to extend an invitation to von der Leyen. The intention behind the Italian prime minister’s invitation was to ensure that the EU chief comprehended the gravity of the predicament Italy was confronting. In a single day, a staggering number of 5,000 migrants arrived, further emphasizing the urgency of the situation.

On Saturday, Eric Mamer, a spokesperson for the European Commission, announced online that President von der Leyen has accepted an invitation from Italian PM Meloni to visit Lampedusa tomorrow.

Migrant arrivals in Italy surge

The thousands of migrants who arrived in Lampedusa outnumber the entire local population. They arrived in the span of three days, from Monday to Wednesday, in some 199 boats, the UN migration agency said, overwhelming the island’s migration center, which has a capacity for about 400 people.

DW reports on the state of distress at the migrant center in Lampedusa.

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On Friday, Meloni urged the EU to provide greater assistance, while Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini described the arrivals as an “act of war.”

Lampedusa is Italy’s southernmost island. It lies just a few dozen kilometers off the coast of the Tunisian city of Sfax, making it a regular entry point for migrants crossing over from North Africa.

In July of last year, the European Union reached a deal with Tunisia to reduce the number of unauthorized migrants heading towards Europe.

“I cannot reword”

Knaus stated that since the agreement and the increase in human rights violations in Tunisia, more individuals have departed from the country. Consequently, it has become more appealing for many sub-Saharan Africans to attempt escaping to Europe with the assistance of smugglers.

The current strategy of the EU is ineffective, and it would be highly beneficial to engage in a practical and substantial discussion regarding potential alternatives.

Pressure eases as migrant transfer from Lampedusa begins

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rmt/sms (AFP, dpa)