Wednesday

26th Apr 2017

Italy grants citizenship to Lampedusa dead

  • Letta meeting with Pope Francis on Friday (Photo: Palazzochigi)

The death toll of the shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa reached 194 over the weekend, as divers recovered more bodies from the sea.

The search continues, with about 200 migrants still missing, while 155 were rescued after their boat, which was carrying people mostly from Somalia and Eritrea, caught fire and capsized on Thursday (3 October).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The hundreds who lost their lives off Lampedusa yesterday are Italian citizens as of today," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Friday - an official day of mourning for the victims.

But for the survivors, crammed in a refugee centre hosting four times more people than its normal capacity, the situation remains dire. Under a law passed by the previous centre-right government, "clandestine immigrants" are considered illegal and have to pay fines of up to €5,000.

Italian integration minister Cecile Kyenge visited the island on Sunday and promised to change the law.

"The rules must be changed, we can't just have to approach immigration with repression, but we need also one of acceptance," Kyenge told Italian television.

She also promised to triple the capacity of Italian immigration centres to 24,000 people.

Meanwhile, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has announced he will visit Lampedusa on Wednesday.

"The visit will take place in the spirit of European support and solidarity expressed by the commission following last week's tragic events," his office said.

It added that the commission is "fully committed" to help member states in coping with refugees.

Interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday are set to discuss the issue, with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton also present at the debate to highlight the need for EU countries to take more refugees from places like Syria.

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders has also called for a "joined-up European policy of global immigration," in which border controls are "just one element."

But any changes to the current regime - a patchwork of national rules - are unlikely to happen overnight.

For the migrants in Lampedusa, and the thousands of others waiting in Libya or Tunisia to attempt a similar crossing, the EU deliberations will make little difference for now.

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos

The European Commission has called for a meeting this week with EU state experts, following border chaos after the launch of new rules that require systematic checks of EU citizens at the Schengen zone's external borders.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  2. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan
  3. Ivanka Trump to meet Merkel at Berlin women's conference
  4. Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in 20 years
  5. Nord Stream 2 to get €4.8bn from European energy firms
  6. Defeated Fillon retires from French politics
  7. Hollande: Vote Macron to avoid 'risk' for France
  8. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children

Latest News

  1. Russische schwarze Kassen bedrohen EU Demokratie
  2. Libya commanders in Brussels for migration talks
  3. Mixed review for EU asylum spots in Greece and Italy
  4. France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win
  5. Free wifi plan backed by MEP committee
  6. Report: Germany blocks post-Dieselgate reform
  7. Russia suspected of Macron hack
  8. EU to exclude financial services from post-Brexit deal