Rome, Nov 28 (IANS/AKI) A record 171,299 boat migrants have reached Italy’s coast this year, an almost 19 percent increase on the whole of 2015, data released by the Interior Ministry showed on Monday.
A total of 176,720 people are currently being sheltered in migrant holding and identification centres, the biggest number in Lombardy, followed by the Lazio, Sicily, Veneto, Campania and Piedmont regions, the ministry figures showed.
The number of unaccompanied minors who landed in Italy during the first 10 months of 2016 (22,772) was almost twice that recorded in the same period last year (12,360), the ministry said.
The overwhelming majority of migrants arrived at Sicilian ports, at the Calabrian port of Reggio Calabria and on the tiny southern Italian island of Lampedusa, according to the ministry.
The biggest share of migrants (21 percent) came from Nigeria, followed by Eritrea, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Bangladesh and Somalia, said the ministry.
A total 1,642 asylum-seekers have been relocated to other European countries, while 1,417 are waiting for an all-clear from the countries and a further 626 are due to be transferred, the data showed.
A total 15,600 asylum-seekers due to be redistributed from Italy to other European countries over a two-year period under controversial quotas agreed by EU ministers at an emergency summit in September 2015, but several states have refused to take any.
Italy’s centre-left Premier Matteo Renzi has demanded help, threatening to withhold Italian contributions to the EU’s budget if fellow states don’t show more solidarity with countries at the front line of the migration crisis.
Italy estimates it will spend 3.9 billion euros next year on managing immigration, and this could rise to 4.3 billion euros – a quarter of its defence spending – if arrivals increase.