The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will travel on Sunday, accompanied by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, to the island of Lampedusa, where thousands of migrants have arrived this week, the Commission announced on Saturday September 16 European. Ms. Meloni had called on Brussels for help after the influx by boat of several thousand people in three days this week on this small Italian island in the Mediterranean near Tunisia.

The Italian leader had asked Mrs von der Leyen to come to Lampedusa to see the situation and to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to put the migration issue on the agenda of the European Union summit in October, while announcing that his government intended to take extraordinary measures.

Between Monday and Wednesday, around 8,500 people, more than the entire population of Lampedusa, arrived on 199 boats, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a United Nations agency . The migrant reception center built on the island is designed for fewer than 400 people. Thousands of these migrants were therefore transferred to Sicily on Friday.

More than 2,000 deaths since January

Images of thousands of people sleeping in the open, climbing the perimeter fence and wandering around the city of Lampedusa have angered members of Italy’s far-right government. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called the arrivals an “act of war.”

This migratory surge has relaunched the debate on the sharing of responsibilities within the European Union regarding asylum seekers.

Located less than 150 kilometers from the Tunisian coast, Lampedusa is one of the first stops for migrants crossing the Mediterranean hoping to reach Europe. Every year, during the summer, tens of thousands of them take to the sea on often dilapidated boats, to attempt this perilous crossing in which more than 2,000 of them have already died since January.