Nine migrants attempting to reach Italy from North Africa have died in the Mediterranean Sea, the UN refugee agency said on Saturday.
Italian media reported that five bodies were found on a beach in southwestern Sicily, with around 20 people from their boat arrested on arrival.
“More deaths in the Mediterranean Sea: Five as a result of a shipwreck of a fishing boat from Tunisia. Another four bodies were recovered by (the NGO) Sea-Eye on a rubber dinghy departed from Libya,” UNHCR Italy spokeswoman Chiara Cardoletti wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Italy’s coalition government led by right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has announced a string of interventions to end illegal immigration, including the detention of irregular migrants.
But the number of people arriving on Italy’s shores on boats from North Africa has surged.
More than 142,000 migrants have arrived aboard makeshift boats since January, compared with 82,000 over the same period last year, interior ministry figures show.