The number of migrants and refugees who arrived in Italy has doubled in the past 12 months, the country's interior ministry said Sunday.
Between Aug. 1, 2020, and July 31, 2021, a total of 49,280 people landed on the Italian coasts. This corresponds to an increase of 128% year-on-year (21,616 people), according to ministry figures. A total of 147 traffickers were arrested, an increase of 25%.
Only 4,239 people were rescued from the Mediterranean by rescue ships run by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and brought to Italy.
The vast majority of the newcomers – 40,727 – were people who reached Italy independently in what the authorities call "autonomous landings." According to the statistics, the majority of the migrants had set sail in Libya (22,343) or Tunisia (17,677).
According to the information provided by migrants upon arrival, Tunisians were the most represented (14,153 in total), followed by Bangladeshis (6,027) and citizens of the Ivory Coast (3,312).
The total number of boat migrants is low when compared to 2014-2017 numbers. In the period from Aug. 1, 2016, to July 31, 2017, Italy saw 182,877 arrivals.
The former social democratic government under Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni began in 2017 to significantly tighten migration policy. This included a controversial agreement with Libya aimed at getting the Libyan authorities to not let migrants out to sea.
Italy's populist government and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini from the right-wing Lega were more restrictive after the 2018 elections. Salvini fought the international aid organizations and closed ports to rescue ships.