Monday

23rd Oct 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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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 gives thumbs up to US data pact

Commission gives 'thumbs-up' to controversial Privacy Shield deal with US on data sharing after a year's operation - but notes room for improvement.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe