ROME/BERLIN: A five-month-old baby boy drowned during a rescue operation off the Italian island of Lampedusa after a boat carrying migrants across the sea from North Africa capsized, ANSA and other Italian news agencies reported on Wednesday.
The tragedy occurred as migrant landings on Lampedusa surged, leaving the small island struggling to cope.
About 1,850 new arrivals landed on Wednesday, bringing the total number of migrants in Lampedusa to more than 6,700, according to ANSA.
The boat the baby was travelling on capsized shortly before it was intercepted by the Italian coastguard. All other passengers were rescued, including the baby’s mother, a teenager from Guinea, ANSA said.
Germany suspends voluntary deal to take in refugees from Italy
The migrants had set off from the Tunisian city of Sfax, a well-known launchpad for sea journeys to Europe.
Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost point and a first port of call for people crossing from North Africa, has long been a flashpoint in Europe’s migration crisis.
Most of those staying there were being hosted at the island’s reception centre, which has an official capacity of around 400. Skirmishes between police and hundreds of migrants trying to leave the island erupted on the docks but were quickly quelled, ANSA said.
Stop taking migrants
Germany said on Wednesday it has stopped taking in migrants from Italy under a European voluntary solidarity plan, in what could shape up to be a new standoff over asylum seekers in the bloc.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2023