After dozens of boats carrying a combined total of around 1,000 migrants arrived to Italy’s southern beaches and two of its small islands over the weekend, Italian officials hurried on Sunday to relieve overcrowding in shelters.
According to state radio and other Italian media, about 50 vessels arrived on the island of Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily between Friday night and Saturday.
Fewer than eight people could fit on a few of the boats that migrant traffickers launched.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, 92 migrants, the most of whom were from Afghanistan, arrived on a sailboat in Puglia, the peninsula’s “heel,” on Saturday.
While other boats in the previous two days made it to Sicily and Sardinia, Italy’s two largest islands, even more migrants went to Calabria in the “toe” of the peninsula.
Doctors Without Borders reported on Twitter that one of its rescue vessels, the Geo Barents, intervened on Saturday night to save 25 migrants, including five kids, from a tiny boat in trouble in international seas close to Libya.
The temporary shelter for rescued migrants on Lampedusa soon got congested as hundreds of migrants disembarked from vessels in recent days.
In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of migrants have boarded smugglers’ boats off the coast of Libya, but many have also left via Tunisia.