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News Analysis: New waves of African migrants pose major problems for Italy

English.news.cn   2014-07-08 03:06:06

ROME, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Around 100 African migrants landed in Italy's Sicily Island last night and another 500 were on their way to arrive in the Mediterranean country, local reports said on Monday.

A boat carrying 100 people, including some children and women, approached the Sicilian coast at night time and let the migrants off in the waters of Ispica, a town in the southernmost area of Sicily, before running away, according to ANSA news agency.

Meanwhile another 500 African migrants, ANSA added, were rescued by three Italian navy ships and will land in Sicily in the next hours.

Italian police were on the spot to identify migrants and possibly their smugglers. Some 180 suspected people traffickers have reportedly been detained since October, all charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigration.

Overall, more than 2,600 migrants including several children and pregnant women were pulled to safety in the weekend by the navy ships of the Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) search-and-rescue mission, which was launched by the Italian government after a tragic wreckage in October.

The weekend's waves were only the latest of countless arrivals in recent months. Over 65,000 African migrants have landed in Italy since the start of this year, ANSA estimated, and hundreds have lost their lives during the perilous crossing. The migrants were especially from Eritrea, Syria and Mali.

Last week a navy ship carrying 45 corpses landed in Sicily. The victims were found by the Italian sea patrol in a packed boat where they were believed to have suffocated in an overcrowded space.

Also last week, Italian authorities opened an investigation over a fresh tragedy, in which more than 70 migrants were reported by survivors to be missing after an alleged sinking.

Mare Nostrum costs the Italian government around 300,000 euros (408,185 U.S. dollars) every day, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has repeatedly called on the European Union (EU) to take a bigger role in dealing with the emergency.

Other major problems connected to the influx are in the background, the local press has underlined.

In a recent interview with La Stampa newspaper, Chief of the Italian Defense General Staff Luigi Binelli Mantelli warned of the risk of "relations" between the people traffickers who organized the crossings and terrorists that he said have emerged from some "indicators."

Other experts have explained that the continuous waves of migrants from Africa pose a threat to the health of Italian population.

Eight Italian soldiers involved in the sea patrol have been recently found positive for tuberculosis, while there are fears that serious illnesses such as Ebola may be brought to Italy.

On Monday, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano held talks with Mariella Bruno, mayor of the Sicilian town of Siculiana, pledging health checks for the local population and more assistance efforts regarding the island's overcrowded immigration centers.

Editor: Fu Peng
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