The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will travel this weekend with the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, to the island of Lampedusa, where thousands of immigrants have arrived this week, an EU official announced on Saturday. .
Meloni had asked Brussels for help after the influx by boat of some 10,000 people in three days this week to this small Italian island in the Mediterranean, near Tunisia.
The Italian leader had asked Von der Leyen to come to Lampedusa to see the situation and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, to include the migration issue on the agenda of the October EU summit, while announcing that his Government intended to take extraordinary measures.
Von der Leyen's visit was confirmed to AFP by a European official, who did not give further details. Between Monday and Wednesday, some 10,000 people, more than the entire population of Lampedusa, arrived aboard 199 boats, according to figures from the United Nations migration agency. Thousands of these migrants were transferred to Sicily on Friday.
Images of thousands of people sleeping outdoors, jumping the perimeter fence and wandering around the city of Lampedusa have angered members of Italy's far-right government. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini described these arrivals as an "act of war."
This wave of migration has relaunched the debate on the distribution of responsibilities within the European Union in relation to asylum seekers.
Located less than 150 kilometers from the Tunisian coast, Lampedusa is one of the first stops for migrants crossing the Mediterranean in the hope of reaching Europe. Every year, during the summer, tens of thousands of them go to sea in often dilapidated boats, to attempt this dangerous journey in which more than 2,000 have already died since January.
Germany has decided to continue welcoming migrants and refugees arriving in Italy, the interior minister said late on Friday, two days after announcing the suspension of a voluntary agreement with Rome to receive new arrivals.
Under a European Union solidarity plan, Germany had pledged to help member states like Italy, particularly overwhelmed by migrants, by taking in 3,500 people, but announced the suspension of the agreement on Wednesday.
He said Rome was not meeting its obligations under the EU's so-called Dublin rules to process asylum applications in the EU country of first arrival.
But Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the recent arrival of thousands of migrants to the small Italian island of Lampedusa meant Germany would accept people after all.
"The reason we have suspended the procedure... is that Italy has not shown any willingness to accept people under the Dublin procedure. It is now clear that we will fulfill our obligation of solidarity," Faeser told German broadcaster ARD .