This photo grabbed from an aerial video made available by the Italian Coast Guards on March 11, 2023 shows a boat overloaded with migrants during a Coast Guards rescue operation on March 10, 2023 off the coast of Calabria, southern Italy. (HANDOUT / GUARDIA COSTIERA / AFP)
ROME – Italy has rescued 47 boats carrying around 1,600 migrants in the central Mediterranean sea in the last two days and brought them ashore to the island of Lampedusa.
Italy's coastguard said in a statement late on Monday that it had taken to safety around 1,200 migrants but that at least 23 people were missing and one body was recovered at sea following three shipwrecks.
The past months have seen a sharp increase in migrant boats trying to reach the Italian coast from Tunisia
Another 12 boats with around 400 migrants were rescued on Tuesday, according to news agency ANSA.
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The past months have seen a sharp increase in migrant boats trying to reach the Italian coast from Tunisia, which has become a more accessible departure point after crackdowns on human trafficking in Libya in recent months.
With the number of people crossing the Mediterranean in smugglers' boats on the rise, Rome's conservative government has urged Brussels to do more to reduce irregular arrivals.
On Monday, Italy offered Tunisia a prospect of money in exchange for economic and political reforms as European Union foreign ministers discussed in Luxembourg how to respond to growing instability in the African country.
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Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi will visit Tunisia later this week, together with EU's top migrants official and French counterpart.