2,000 migrants reach Mediterranean island of Lampedusa by boat

Rome, May 10, (dpa/GNA) - More than 2,000 migrants have reached Lampedusa by boat within the past 24 hours, the ANSA news agency reported on Monday, sparking concerns in Rome.

The number of migrants boarding crowded vessels for the treacherous journey to the small island between North Africa and Sicily has sharply risen in recent days.

ANSA said early on Monday that, during the previous 24 hours, 2,128 people landed on the Italian island, including 635 overnight.

Patrol boats picked up several hundred people travelling in small boats and brought them ashore, while others managed to reach the coast.

In recent weeks, private sea rescuers have reported seeing greater numbers of migrants setting off in rubber dinghies and small wooden boats towards Europe, often from Libya, while dozens have drowned when vessels capsize.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, more than 12,900 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year. There were 4,100 arrivals during the same period last year.

Many of those making the perilous journey came from Tunisia, the Ivory Coast and Bangladesh.

One reason for the increase is the relatively calm seas at this time of year.

Right-wing parties, including the co-ruling League party of former interior minister Matteo Salvini, responded by warning about "thousands of illegal immigrants" arriving in Italy. Salvini called for a crisis meeting with Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Sunday.

Salvini said he was already in contact with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese.

Lamorgese had also contacted Prime Minister Mario Draghi during the weekend about the rise in numbers, ANSA said.

Sicilian regional president Nello Musumeci said the "human drama of migrants in the Mediterranean" remained unresolved. He said everyone knew that many migrants would die at sea in the coming weeks.

"But no one lifts a finger, neither in Rome nor in Brussels," he said in a post on Facebook.

So far this year more than 500 people have drowned attempting to make the dangerous journey by sea, according to the UN.

The sea rescues are considered controversial in some areas and the Sea-Watch 4 migrant rescue vessel said on Monday that it feared it would be detained beyond the mandatory quarantine period in Trapani, in Sicily.

The ship reached the port in Sicily last week, with more than 450 people it had rescued on board. What happens next is not clear, a spokesperson said.

For now, two of the organization's vessels are currently out of commission, as Sea-Watch 3 remains impounded in the port of Augusta, in Italy.