Rome [Italy]: Amid the rising number of migrants in Lampedusa, EU President Ursula von der Leyen pledged action to help Italy’s crisis-hit island during her visit on Sunday, CNN reported.
Von der Leyen visited a migrant reception centre on the island after the Italian Prime Minister urged the European leader to extend help to the island.
The EU president’s visit came after Mayor Filippo Mannino warned on Thursday about Lampedusa’s migrant crisis saying that it had reached a “point of no return”.
At least 130,000 migrants have arrived on the shores of Italy this year, which is almost double as compared to the previous year, CNN reported.
Addressing a press conference along with Italian PM Georgia Meloni, Von Der Leyen said,
“We will decide who comes to the European Union and under what circumstances, and not the smugglers and traffickers.”
Meanwhile, Meloni and the EU Chief met on Sunday to “offer a coordinated response by the Italian and European authorities” Von Der Leyen informed.
“We have an obligation as part of the international community. We have fulfilled it in the past and we will do so today and in the future,” she added.
The EU president stressed that migration is a European challenge.
“Migration is a European challenge and it needs a European answer and solution,” she said.
Meloni said the “problem” of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe cannot be solved by redistributing migrants within European borders but rather requires tackling the problem externally and preventing the departure of migrants, according to CNN.
Von Der Leyen promoted legal pathways and humanitarian corridors as measures to counter “smugglers’ lies.”
“We will offer migrants real alternatives through this humanitarian admission. This is very important to break the vicious narrative of the smugglers,” she added.
Earlier, on Saturday, a newborn baby was found dead on a boat carrying people to Lampedusa even as dozens of the island’s citizens protested over a surge in arrivals, Al Jazeera reported citing ANSA news agency.
The Italian Coast Guard found the baby, saying that it was born during the journey and was found during a rescue operation.
According to Al Jazeera, Lampedusa has seen thousands of landings this week alone, more than the island’s permanent population. The situation has further triggered appeals for help from local politicians.
The recent surge in arrivals has reignited the debate over how Europe shares responsibility for asylum seekers.