The number of irregular migrants who have arrived in Italy by sea since the start of the year has exceeded 20,000, according to official figures.
Data from Italy’s Interior Ministry showed that 20,017 irregular migrants came to the country via the Mediterranean in the Jan. 1 to March 13 period compared with 6,152 during the same period last year.
Between March 9-11 alone, 4,566 people arrived irregularly via the Mediterranean migration routes.
In comments to the Italian media on the issue, Defense Minister Guido Crosetto claimed the increase in the number of irregular migrants coming from Africa is partly due to Russia’s strategy of “hybrid warfare” applied through the Russian security company Wagner in African countries that support Ukraine.
Due to the increase in migrant arrivals, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Matteo Salvini participated in a video conference with Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi and Defense Minister Crosetto to evaluate the situation.