Global Independent Analytics

Italy Gears Up for Hundreds of Thousands of New Migrants as Other European Routes Close

Italian Coast Guard vessel rescued 774 migrants in the Strait of Sicily between Italy and North Africa, one of a seemingly endless series of new waves of migrants moving north

Breitbart’s Thomas D. Williams reports: So far this year, the Italian interior ministry has documented 16,075 migrants crossing to its shores, compared to just over 10,000 during the same period in 2015. The Italian coastguard reported that it had rescued 1,482 migrants off the Libyan coast last weekend, and another 1,500 migrants and refugees were received in Italy on Tuesday as rescue ships carried out 11 operations in the Mediterranean.

The recently concluded EU-Turkey agreement efficiently closed the so-called ‘Balkan route’ from Greece to Europe. Since March 20, people smugglers have been struggling to invent new routes for transporting refugees to the continent, primarily through Italy.

As the majority of borders are closed now, Italy might become obliged to hold on to the immigrants landing on its shores. EU officials have anticipated that some 500.000 to 800.000 refugees will arrive in Europe in 2016 with Libya becoming a new route to transport those fleeing war from both Africa and the Middle East.

Despite all the criticism, the EU-Turkey deal has already reduced the refugee flow by several times: only 1.000 refugees arrived last week, as compared with former daily arrivals of 2.000 people. However, such a drop might be a signal of human traffickers regrouping their travel routes.

Williams provides statistics: “n 2014, the largest group of migrants arriving in Italy were Syrians, while in 2015 this flow decreased, since Syrians preferred the Greek route into Europe, according to Flavio Di Giacomo, the spokesman in Italy for the International Organization for Migrants (IOM). With the closing of the Balkan route, Syrians will once again have to gain entry through Italy.

Meanwhile, the number of sub-Saharan Africans who arrived in Italy by the sea in 2015 more than doubled compared to 2014. The most represented country of origin was Eritrea, with 39,162 Eritreans entering Italy last year, Di Giacomo said.

So far this year, 13,829 migrants have arrived in Italy from Libya, as compared with 10,075 for the same period in 2015.”

Italy is struggling to hold and settle refugees: two years ago it was hosting 29.000 immigrants; this March the number has risen to 106.000 and is expected to increase drastically over the next several months.

“The larger vessels will reportedly carry up to 300 passengers, though they will be ordered to hide below decks until they reach international waters. The new trips are scheduled to begin the first week of April,” concludes Williams.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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