On the island of Lampedusa, African migrants are outnumbering the native Italian population after an influx of what appears to be largely single working-age men from Tunisia.
Lampedusa, off of the Sicilian coast, has seen its population balloon from about 6,000 to over 12,000 in 48 hours.
The island’s mayor, Filippo Mannino, told a radio station that the situation can be described as a crisis.
“In the past 48 hours, around 7,000 people have arrived on my island, an island that has always welcomed and saved in its arms,” he said, adding, “Now we have reached a point of no return where the role played by this small rock in the middle of the Mediterranean has been put into crisis by the dramatic nature of this phenomenon.”
Authorities have transferred around 5,000 people off the island, and the Italian Red Cross is delivering thousands of meals to the migrants.
As the island only has the capacity for 400 migrants, thousands of new North African arrivals are being transported and distributed around continental Europe.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has responded to the development, saying she will take “immediately extraordinary measures.”
Meloni has also said the EU needs to step up and help solve the migrant crisis.
“If somebody here in Europe were to think that this crisis that we are tackling and facing could just be solved within Italian borders, then it would be a very big and huge mistake,” she said.
To this end, the EU signed a deal with Tunisia just nine weeks ago, an agreement where the EU would provide boatloads of cash to Tunisia to stop human smugglers from sending migrants to Europe.
However, the deal is currently stalled.