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EU chief Ursula von der Leyen to visit Lampedusa with Giorgia Meloni amid rising migrant arrivals

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen will visit the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday after 8,500 migrants arrived by boat in three days, an EU official said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel on Sunday with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to the island of Lampedusa, where thousands of migrants have arrived this week, an EU official announced on Saturday.


Meloni had called on Brussels for help after some 8,500 people arrived by boat on this small Italian island in the Mediterranean, 145 kilometers off the Tunisian coast, in three days this week. She said Europe needed a “paradigm shift” in its approach to the migrant issue.

The Italian government held an extraordinary meeting on the migrant crisis after Meloni called for a naval blockade of North Africa to resolve the problem.

Meloni had invited the head of the European Commission to travel with her to Lampedusa to see conditions for himself and called for the implementation of a new migration agreement between the European Union and Tunisia.

“Italy and Europe obviously cannot accommodate this massive influx of people, especially when these migratory flows are managed by unscrupulous traffickers,” she said.

In Paris, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin summoned police, immigration officials and regional government leaders to a second summit Saturday morning to coordinate a response.

It comes as French far-right leader Marine Le Pen is in Italy for meetings with Matteo Salvini, the head of Meloni’s coalition partner the League Party.

On Friday, Le Pen’s niece, far-right French politician Marion Maréchal, was in Lampedusa to show support for Italy, which she said has been abandoned by Europe to deal with migrants alone.

“I came to support the Italian people and government because Lampedusa and the Italian borders are today the borders of the whole of Europe,” Maréchal told Italian journalists. “We must change EU policy to help the Italian government, which is now alone in the face of this crisis.”


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