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Italy struggles to find shelter for migrants

6,771 are rescued in seas off Libya

ROME — Italian rescue ships brought migrants by the thousands to the country’s southern ports, including a baby born aboard a navy vessel, as crowded shelters in Sicily and on the mainland struggled Monday to find room for them.

Some politicians based in northern Italy vowed that their regions would not take in any of the Mediterranean Sea migrants.

In a three-day period ending Sunday, 6,771 survivors were rescued in the seas north of Libya from overcrowded rubber dinghies and unseaworthy fishing boats sent out by smuggling rings, the Coast Guard reported Monday. Ten bodies were found Sunday on boats or in the sea.


Calm seas and mild temperatures fueled the spike in human trafficking, just like it did last month when nearly 6,000 migrants were rescued during a few days of good weather. Italy has not yet released the total number of migrant arrivals in April, but the relentless influx of migrants this year is on track to surpass the 170,000 rescued at sea by Italy in 2014.

The navy said a woman, in labor when rescued Sunday, gave birth to a girl aboard one of its patrol ships. The mother and daughter were fine, and the patrol boat, carrying 654 migrants saved in four different rescue operations, headed to port.

Other rescuers had grim tasks. An Italian tugboat, among several commercial vessels saving migrants on Sunday, recovered two corpses, the navy said.

The surge of arrivals set Italian port mayors and charity organizations scrambling to find beds for the migrants. Many migrants will seek asylum because of war or persecution and hope to reach relatives in Northern Europe. But until their applications are processed, which could take months or longer, asylum-seekers are supposed to stay in Italy.

In Reggio Calabria, where 780 migrants disembarked in the ‘‘toe’’ of the Italian peninsula, priority was being given to keeping migrant families together, many of them in a gym, and 14 migrant babies were being given medical checkups at local hospitals.


Another 540 migrants in Reggio Calabria were being taken to the Tuscany or Emilia Romagna regions in the north.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano visited the Italian island of Sicily on Monday, conferring with local authorities.

The Milan-based governor of Lombardy, meanwhile, vowed not to take in any more migrants.

‘‘In a few days I will be in Rome. And I’ll repeat to the interior minister that Lombardy has already done its part,’’ Governor Roberto Maroni was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as saying. ‘‘If there is any funding available, it should be spent on our citizens and not for clandestine’’ migrants.

An estimated 800 migrants drowned last month when their boat capsized off Libya with hundreds of them locked in the hold by smugglers. After that, the European Union held an emergency summit and agreed to contribute more boats and patrol aircraft to Mediterranean rescue efforts.

Charities in Italy have pitched in to give the migrants food, beds, and a safe place to socialize.

‘‘We have to realize that emigration is a phenomenon Italy can’t face alone,’’ said the Rev. Antonio Pangallo, who runs the Caritas charity in Reggio Calabria. ‘‘My hope is that they [politicians] don’t get interested in the problem only when we witness again — I hope not — another genocide in Mediterranean waters. Italy needs help.’’


Turkey said Monday that it has stopped about 200 migrants from reaching Greece in recent days.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said more than 155 migrants were seized while trying to sail from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos in multiple ships on Sunday.

The Turkish coast guard captured 71 other people on inflatable boats Sunday, including 38 Afghans and 33 people from Myanmar.

In a separate interdiction, the coast guard captured 84 migrants in three small boats, mostly Syrians. Turkey does not deport Syrians.