After migrant boat worries, Ursula von der Leyen and Giorgia Meloni visit Lampedusa

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, visited a migrant reception center on the Italian island of Lampedusa after the country's prime minister requested EU assistance with tiny boat arrivals.

In the past three days, more than 8,000 migrants have landed on the island. Italy, according to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, is under unsustainable pressure.

Ms. von der Leyen admitted on Sunday that the issue requires a European response because it is a European challenge.

While with Ms Meloni, she praised the residents of Lampedusa for their support of migrants, stating that they had arrived on the island due to its location.

She committed to increase support for evacuating migrants from Lampedusa and to intensify efforts against people smugglers who facilitate illegal and perilous journeys.

Ms. Meloni asserted that Italy could not solve the problem alone. She mentioned that it was currently affecting the borders, the frontier countries but would shortly involve all of the EU states. 

She added that the future of Europe is contingent on its capacity to confront epoch-making challenges of our time, and illegal immigration is without question one of them.

A newborn infant's corpse was recovered from a migrant boat on Saturday. The mother is believed to have given birth during the voyage from North Africa, according to the sources which are investigating the death.

According to local media, the child's corpse was placed in a white coffin and transported to a cemetery in the Imbriacola district of Lampedusa.

This week, a five-month-old infant died during a rescue operation off the coast of the island after a boat transporting migrants from north Africa capsized.

Ms. Meloni advocates for a naval blockade by the European Union to prohibit boats from crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italian shores.

Saturday, the Italian Red Cross reported that it was assisting approximately 2,490 people at a reception center designated for 400 arrivals.

Throughout the week, volunteers and staff have provided thousands of meals and assisted with the transfer of new arrivals to Sicily and elsewhere.

This year, nearly 125,980 migrants have arrived in Italy, roughly double the number for the same period in 2022.

Saturday, Ms. Meloni implored Ms. von der Leyen to recognize the gravity of their situation and instantly accelerate the execution of an agreement with Tunisia.

The country in North Africa has become the primary site of departure for African migrants attempting to reach Europe.

The EU agreement, which was signed in July, is supported by €110m ($118m; £90m) of EU funds to combat human smuggling, strengthen borders, and return migrants.

On Saturday, residents of Lampedusa demonstrated against the construction of a new tent community to house the migrants in response to the influx of new arrivals.

A Lampedusa-based activist, Jasmine Lozzelli, told sources that the migrants should be sent to mainland Italy. She stated that the administration of the reception system is more important than the number of applicants.

She also mentioned that if rescues are performed effectively with large ships, they are not taken to an island of 5,000 people, but rather to the mainland.

Putting them on Lampedusa creates an emergency situation.