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Newborn baby found dead on boat crossing Mediterranean to Italy

A newborn baby has been found dead on a boat carrying people to the Italian island of Lampedusa during a rescue operation, the Ansa news agency has reported.

The baby was born during the journey and died soon after birth, Ansa reported, adding that about 40 people were onboard.

Earlier this week, a five-month-old boy drowned during a rescue operation off Lampedusa after a boat carrying people across the sea from north Africa capsized.

Almost 126,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year, almost double the figure by the same date in 2022.

Between Monday and Wednesday this week, about 8,500 people – more than Lampedusa’s entire permanent population – arrived on the island in 199 boats, according to figures from the UN migration agency. The influx has prompted local politicians to appeal for help.

Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, called on Friday for the European Union to act jointly “with a naval mission if necessary” to prevent people crossing the Mediterranean from north Africa.

In a video message posted on social media, Meloni promised strict action in response to this week’s increase in arrivals.

“The migratory pressure that Italy has been experiencing since the beginning of the year is unsustainable,” she said.

The problem sprang from the “difficult international situation” in Africa, she said.

She urged the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to visit Lampedusa, and asked the European Council president, Charles Michel, to put the matter on the agenda of the council’s October summit.

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