A fishing boat carrying nearly 370 migrants landed overnight on the Italian island of Lampedusa, the country’s news agencies said on Sunday, fuelling anger from local officials over a recent rise in illegal arrivals, AFP reports.
Italy has been struggling in recent months with daily arrivals of hundreds of migrants leaving from North Africa to its southern shores, a task complicated by security measures imposed by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Local Lampedusa mayor Toto Martello called for a general strike on the island from Monday to protest the national government’s “frightening silence” on the issue.
“Lampedusa can no longer cope with this situation. Either the government takes immediate decisions or the whole island will go on strike,” Martello told ANSA news agency.
“We can’t manage the emergency and the situation is now really unsustainable.”
The boat carrying 367 people, which was in danger of sinking due to high winds, was escorted by the Italian coast guard and police to the island’s port, ANSA news agency said.
Those onboard included 13 women and 33 minors.
They were met at the port by a demonstration organised by the far-right, anti-immigrant League party.
The migrants, whose nationalities were not known, underwent temperature checks before they were taken to an emergency reception centre on the island which now houses some 1,160 people, ten times its planned maximum capacity, Martello told ANSA.
About 30 other small boats, mostly from the Tunisian coast, had already reached the island since Friday carrying a total of around 500 migrants, the Italian press reported.
Nello Musumeci, the right-leaning leader of sister island Sicily, wrote on Facebook on Sunday that he would ask the government for a meeting on the “humanitarian and health crisis”.
“Lampedusa can’t do it anymore. Sicily cannot continue to pay for the indifference of Brussels and the silence of Rome,” he wrote.
Musumeci issued a decree last week ordering the closure of migrant centres in Sicily to curb the spread of coronavirus, a move that was rejected by the Italian courts.