More than 10,000 people have been rescued from the western Mediterranean in just 36 hours, 40 rubber and wooden boats with close to 7,000 people on Monday. And then on Tuesday, an additional 3,000 people were rescued by the Italian navy and vessels operated by aid groups including MSF.
The International Organization for Migration, or IOM, tells NPR it might be the largest concentration of people to arrive in Italy since the beginning of the European migrant crisis.
Estimates it will take up to three days to bring all the rescued people to land. Most of them will land first on Italian islands such as Sicily and Lampedusa.
“About 600 to 1,200 people arrive in each landing,” he says. “Everyone is fingerprinted, there are security and medical checks. The system is very efficient, because Italy has been doing this for many months now.” He says he expects the emergency situation, as he calls it, will be over by the end of the week, assuming the pace of rescues slows.
Still, even after all the rescued people are on land and initially identified, it is just the beginning of a months- or years-long process to seek asylum in Europe. Even if a person is not granted asylum, it can take up to three years before the appeals process ends and the person is actually ordered to leave Italy. And Di Giacomo stresses that it is difficult to repatriate people who arrive without official documents from their home country, as many of the people rescued this week do.