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Hundreds of migrants arrive in Lampedusa by boat

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By Euronews with AP
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Migrants queue before boarding the GNV Azzurra ship after being transferred from the migrant centre on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, May 13, 2021.
Migrants queue before boarding the GNV Azzurra ship after being transferred from the migrant centre on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, May 13, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli
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A boat carrying a record number of migrants arrived at an Italian island port on Monday evening.

Officials said there were 686 migrants aboard the boat which was escorted into port at Lampedusa by the coast guard.

It is the single biggest arrival of migrants in Italy in years, according to the United Nations' refugee agency.

Work to transfer the migrants off the boat and to a reception centre on the island continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Lampedusa has a housing complex for migrants who reach the island after rescue from unseaworthy boats.

Requests by many of the migrants for asylum are often denied by Italy unless they can document they are fleeing war and other conflict or persecution, not poverty.

Earlier this month the Italian Coast Guard rescued 125 migrants who were spotted huddling together on the rocky shore of a tiny uninhabited isle after one of two boats partially sunk near Lampedusa.

The recent arrivals have added urgency to efforts by Mediterranean countries to pressure the European Union to help in handling migrant flows.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese met with her counterparts from Spain, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus this week in Malaga.

Lamorgese said there was an “urgent” need to craft a European policy that is equitable and provides "ambitious" financing for border patrols, redistribution, and repatriation programmes.