Two weeks into 2023, Italy has already seen 3,862 illegal migrant arrivals. According to figures released by the Italian Interior Ministry, only 386 migrants arrived in the same period in 2022 with 340 arriving for that timeframe in 2021. The majority of arrivals were in the first few days of the year with 525 arriving on New Year’s Day and an additional 499 arriving on January 2 before numbers exploded on January 3, with 1,193 migrants arriving in one day.
The majority of the new arrivals have been identified as migrants from the Ivory Coast and Pakistan.
The massive increase in new arrivals comes after Italy had more than 100,000 migrants cross its borders last year. It was the first time since 2017 that Italy had seen figures that high. According to statistics from UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, at least 1,368 migrants were also declared missing or dead.
In response to the crisis, Italy’s recently elected conservative Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has vowed to tackle the immigration crisis that has been steadily growing in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite Meloni’s recent regulation that forbids migrant taxi NGOs from making multiple rescues at sea, and other regulations, illegal migrant numbers have continued to climb since the same period last year.
Prior to being elected prime minster, Meloni had recommended instituting a possible naval blockade in the Mediterranean Sea to prevent human smugglers from making the dangerous journey. Despite the blockade having support from a senior Italian Admiral, it has yet to be implemented.
Meloni’s government has instead suggested instituting a ‘Marshall plan’ for Africa in an effort to tackle the source of the problem. The plan would include Italy sending cash to African countries in an effort to invest enough into local economies that migrants would not longer feel a need to leave their native countries.
Italy is not the only country battling rising numbers of illegal migrants. Spain has also seen a drastic increase in recent months as human smugglers have opened new routes across the Mediterranean Sea at the Strait of Gibraltar and have begun using jet skis to transport migrants from Morocco. The UK has also seen an increase in migrants arriving via small boats. If Italy is any indicator, then the migration crisis shows no signs of slowing down.
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