A new migration route appears to be increasingly used by migrant smugglers to take refugees and migrants from the coast of Libya to the southern Italian region of Calabria, in particular to the town of Roccella Ionica and the coast of the Locride area, ANSAmed newspaper reported.
The area is located in the southernmost point of mainland Italy near the Italian island of Sicily.
Some 1,500 people have landed in the Calabrian port of Roccella Ionica over the previous four days, Italian authorities said Monday (March 27). In total, authorities recorded 2,200 irregular migrant arrivals since the beginning of the year in ten separate landings.
Most recently, a group of 650 migrants arrived by themselves in Roccella Ionica on Sunday night (March 26) on a 30-meter fishing boat which had departed from Libya approximately five days earlier.
The migrants were all male and said to hail from Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt.
On March 26 alone, 311 migrants of different nationalities, who had been rescued by the Italian coast guard, arrived in Roccella Ionica, which has been dubbed the ‘Lampedusa of Calabria.’
A 35-year-old Pakistani citizen did not survive the crossing. Previously, between Thursday and Friday last week (March 23 – 24), another 430 people managed to reach the Calabrian port.
According to local sources, the last four boats to land in Roccella Ionica had departed from Libya.
This could mean that the route to Italy from Turkey, which was taken by the fateful boat that suffered shipwreck, leaving at least 91 people dead near Cutro on February 26, is apparently becoming less important.
Migrants who take the new route to Roccella Ionica depart from North Africa, in particular Libya, to reach the coast of Calabria.
Roccella Ionica’s hosting system, meanwhile, is feeling overburdened by the large number of migrant arrivals.
The large tent and the two chemical toilets set up at the port are not enough for the newcomers staying there. At the moment, only about 150 of the 650 migrants who arrived with the latest landing are being hosted at the local sports center.
Authorities are looking for accommodation solutions for the others, as further arrivals are expected.