More than a statistic: The human cost of migration to Italy

More than a statistic: The human cost of migration to Italy
By Sarah Taylor with Italian Coast Guard, ANSA, AFP
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Hundreds die attempting to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa. Thousands are saved, but Italy is struggling to cope with escalating migrant arrivals.

The influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from north Africa is taking its toll on Italy.


An unprecedented wave of migration saw more than a thousand arrive on Thursday morning alone (April 16). Close to 600 of those docked in Sicily.

Almost a thousand more are expected on the island throughout the day, according to Italian authorities.

The Italian Coast Guard reports it has saved nearly ten thousand people at sea since Friday (April 10).

Italy has called on the European Union to increase the budget for the Triton border control operation. International human rights organisations have made similar calls.

The human cost of migration

The financial cost is great, but the situation is taking an emotional toll on both those being rescued and the rescuers themselves.

British media reports suggest the Italian Coast Guard pulled 586 migrants from the Mediterranean across 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday (April 15-16).

While thousands have been saved in recent days, hundreds have perished.

Local aid worker Bruno Mangiola spoke of a group of girls she came across in Reggio Calabria, on Italy’s southern tip. One, a 12 year old, says she has lost her mother, father and sister.

“We found them alone,” said Mangiola. “The older girls are being very brave. They shed just a few tears when they told us what happened. We’re trying to protect the younger girl as much as possible, because, at the moment, it’s better to leave her be.”


The girl’s family is thought to have drowned in a shipwreck between Monday and Tuesday (April 13-14), in which an estimated 400 people drowned. It represents one of the deadliest such tragedies in the past ten years.

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