LAMPEDUSA-The European Union presented Sunday an emergency plan for Italy to help it handle migrant arrivals after a record number of people landed on its island of Lampedusa over the past week. The surge in asylum seekers on the Italian island of Lampedusa has rekindled a fierce debate in Europe on how to share responsibility for the tens of thousands reaching the Continent each year.
“Irregular migration is a European challenge and it needs a European answer,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Lampedusa, offering a 10-point plan to help Rome deal with the crisis.
Since Monday, around 8,500 people -- more than the island’s entire local population -- have arrived in around 200 boats, according to the UN migration agency. Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island, has long been a landing point for migrant boats from North Africa. But this week officials said its migration centre, built to house fewer than 400 people, was overwhelmed.
“We are doing everything possible,” Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said at a press conference with von der Leyen on Lampedusa. It is “the future that Europe wants for itself that is at stake here, because the future of Europe depends on Europe’s capacity to face major challenges,” Meloni said