Posted on April 12, 2023

Italy Declares State of Emergency as Migrant Numbers Surge

Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press, April 11, 2023

Italy’s right-wing government on Tuesday declared a six-month national state of emergency to help it cope with a surge in migrants arriving on the country’s southern shores.

State TV said a special commissioner was expected to be named. Initial funding of 5 million euros (nearly $5.5 million) was also approved as part of the measure approved by Premier Giorgia Meloni and her Cabinet.

In a statement after the Cabinet meeting, the government said the state of emergency was deemed necessary “to carry out with urgency extraordinary measures to reduce congestion” at an overwhelmed migrant shelter on a tiny Italian island in the Mediterranean.


“Let’s be clear, this doesn’t resolve the problem, whose solution is tied to a mindful and responsible intervention of the European Union,” Civil Protection and Sea Policies Minister Nello Musumeci was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.

Largely unsuccessfully, Meloni’s government, like several others before, has pressed for more solidarity from fellow EU countries, which often don’t make good on pledges to accept some of the asylum-seekers hoping to find relatives or work in northern Europe.

Since the start of this year, some 31,000 migrants, either rescued by Italian military boats or charity ships or reaching Italy without assistance, have disembarked {snip} That’s nearly four times the roughly 8,000 for the same period in each of the two previous years.


On one recent day alone, 26 migrant boats, many of them without needing rescue, reached the Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island south of Sicily. The facility on Lampedusa which shelters migrants so they can be provisionally identified as a first step toward any asylum application, was reeling under the relentless stream of arrivals.

The shelter is meant to accommodate about 350-400 people, but in recent days, there were 3,000. {snip}


The biggest number of migrants arriving so far this year are from Ivory Coast, followed by people from Guinea, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia and Bangladesh {snip}