Italy: Record-breaking number of migrants arrive in 48 hours

Rome: In the past 48 hours, more than 4000 migrants have reached Southern Italy – a new record – with some 2,000 people disembarking on the island of Lampedusa alone.

According to government figures, arrivals have tripled in the first three months of 2023.

So far this year, more than 20,000 migrants landed on Italian shores. Some 6,500 people arrived in Italy during the same period in 2022.

Crossing the Mediterranean is the most dangerous migration route in the world, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Migrants are often crowded into unsafe, rickety rafts, which are prone to sinking, while the Italian coastguard has been accused of deliberately delaying rescues – something it denies.

More than 26,000 migrants have either died or gone missing in the sea since 2014.

Italy and Malta have seen the number of boats travelling in the central Mediterranean multiply this weekend.

Most of the recent migrants set out from Tunisia, where a recent controversial speech by the country’s president against its migrant population sparked a series of violent attacks, pushing people to risk the voyage.

On Sunday, 29 migrants were killed in two shipwrecks off the coast of Tunisia.

Another 12 people were killed in shipwrecks on Friday in international waters off Malta.

Tunisia claimed to have stopped the departure of more than 70 boats over the weekend.