Reportage. A surge of migrant and refugee crossings is overwhelming the immigration system set up to receive them.

In the Sicilian Channel, 10,000 people rescued in two days

The migratory flows aren’t abating. Over the course of two days, 10,000 people were rescued in the Strait of Sicily — 4,655 on Wednesday alone. The non-stop migration flow has left dozens of victims and is overwhelming immigration workers here.

On Wednesday, 28 bodies were recovered during 33 rescue operations to 27 rubber boats, five small boats and a barge, all caught off the coast of Libya. The 28 bodies are added to the 10 that were recovered two days ago, when 6,000 other migrants were rescued. Today, 22 corpses on a boat pulled by the ship Astral will disembark at Augusta, where the Libyan Navy boat is expected with 1,008 survivors onboard. These are cold numbers, behind which there are the stories of men, women and children.

In Sicily, the hot spots created by Minister Angelino Alfano upon the request of Brussels, which is begging for at least another two, are collapsing. Boats unload one after the other, dumping huge numbers that are straining the limits of the reception machine. In Palermo on Wednesday morning, the ship Bourbon Argos, managed by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), landed with 1,020 migrants. Among the refugees there were 161 women and 15 minors. And many had to spend the night on the deck of the Bourbon Argos, which was docked since morning in the port of Palermo with over 1,000 migrants rescued in the Sicily Channel. More than 200 refugees are still stuck on board because the identification procedures on the dock are so slow.

Michel Telaro, project coordinator on the MSF ship Bourbon Argos, says: “It is simply outrageous that because of the cumbersome procedures, the access to primary care for these vulnerable people is delayed. This delay will slow down the departure of our ship, at a time when thousands of people are at sea, with the sad death toll that continues to rise.”

From Western to Eastern Sicily, the emergency situation is the same. One thousand seven people arrived in Catania: three times more than forecasted. During the crossing on the ship Dattilo, three children were born, two boys and a girl. Almost at the same hour, 664 people arrived to Messina on board the boat Refugee, a German humanitarian ship; in the afternoon, 50 migrants arrived to Porto Empedocle, rescued by an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat. And today, the ship Corsi of the Coast Guard will reach Pozzallo with 450 survivors onboard.

Another hot front is Calabria. The Aquarius, a Mediterranean rescue ship operated in partnership with Doctors Without Borders, disembarked 725 migrants in the port of Vibo Valentia. The refugees were rescued on Monday while they were off Libya, northwest of Tripoli. In total, there were 529 men, 191 women (118 were traveling alone and 10 are pregnant) and 198 minors, 178 of them unaccompanied, and even nine children under 5 years old. Two women alleged they were victims of sexual violence.

At the Taranto port, the Spanish military ship Navarra is moored in the harbor with 522 migrants: 328 men, 108 women and 86 minors from North Africa. In addition, another 417 people have come to Reggio Calabria onboard the MSF ship Dignity, among them 267 men, 58 women and 92 children, 84 of whom were unaccompanied. It also carries on board the body of a 25-year-old woman in her fifth month of pregnancy, who died of cardiac arrest.

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