UNHCR said many were suffering from scabies, a contagious skin disease, suggesting they had been held in close quarters in Libya before departing. As is common, the Bangladeshis and sub-Saharan Africans were held in the lower deck of the vessel, the agency said.
Once the ship docked, the passengers disembarked and were taken to a reception center where they were being processed. Recently Italy began a program to vaccinate newly arrived migrants in Lampedusa against COVID-19.
The arrivals were the latest in a year that has seen a marked increase in the number of migrants arriving in Italy.
As of Monday, 44,778 migrants had disembarked in Italy this year, with the top nationalities Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt. The total is nearly double the number of arrivals in the first nine months of 2020 and five times the number of 2019, according to Interior Ministry statistics.
The arrivals have added urgency to efforts by Mediterranean countries to pressure the European Union to develop a more equitable migration policy that addresses the problem driving people to flee their homelands and shares the burden beyond front-line European countries.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese met with her counterparts from Spain, Malta, Greece and Cyprus this week in Malaga, Spain and said there was an “urgent” need to craft a European policy that is equitable and provides “ambitious” financing for border patrols, redistribution and repatriation programs.
Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, and Nicole Winfield in Rome, contributed to this report.
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