A new ship, the UK’s first, has launched to bring food to the camps of refugees and migrants in Italy, where millions have fled to Europe in recent years.
The Royal Navy says the ship, named the ‘Odd One’, is the first of its kind to be built to deliver the food from the Italian port of Catania to the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily.
The ship will be delivered to the port of Taranto in the coming weeks.
Owing to the logistics challenges, the first shipment of food is expected to arrive in October.
It will then be sent to the island of Lecce in the northern Adriatic Sea.
Italy has a population of more than a million people who have fled war and persecution in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
The EU has so far pledged to take in a record 5.7 million refugees and asylum seekers this year, up from 4.5 million in 2015.
However, the European Commission has warned that the EU will need to take on more than its allotted refugee quota to meet its target.
This means the EU’s asylum quota of 500,000 could be exceeded in 2019 if it does not do more to help those fleeing war and conflict in the region.
EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, who is responsible for European security policy, told EU officials that the European Union needs to do more.
“I can say we are very happy with the success of the delivery of the ship,” she said.
“We are working on a package to be sent this summer, with some other measures to be taken in the future.”
A new container ship will take food to Lampeda and Sicily after the first delivery.
Oleg Deripaska/Reuters The first delivery of food will come in October when the first ship, carrying food, leaves Catania for the Lampedana port of Tuscany.
The arrival of the first batch of refugees, who are already waiting in camps in Sicily and Catania, is expected on Monday.
They will be loaded onto the ship at the Catania shipyard, where the container ship is built, and driven to Leclea, a small island in the Lido river in Sicily.
There, they will be processed and then taken to the nearby Sicilian island of Catani.
The ships will then sail back to Catania.
The first batch will be moved to Catani, on Tuesday, with the rest of the refugees and other migrants on Wednesday.
The refugees will be transported by private car to the nearest Italian port, Catania or Catania-Pescara.
The delivery of a large number of people, including children, is a challenge, said Italian Minister of Immigration, Francesco Bucci.
He said that the migrants would need to be checked thoroughly, as the ship was to take them to a different port in Italy.
The number of arrivals has already reached 1.2 million, with around half of them from war-torn Syria.
Italy will receive the first-ever humanitarian shipment of refugees from the EU in late September, with more expected to be moved in the following weeks.