By Angelo Amante
ROME (Reuters) - Migrants arriving in Italy face extreme challenges to meet their basic needs after leaving reception centres, a survey showed on Thursday, with almost a third of them struggling to feed themselves.
The survey, issued by aid group International Rescue Committee (IRC), is based on interviews with 598 people who landed on Italy's shores in the last three months amid a surge in sea arrivals which have almost doubled compared to 2022.
The small southern island of Lampedusa has borne the brunt, with thousands of migrants packed there last month during a peak in crossings from north Africa.
"Beyond Lampedusa and other first ports of arrival, support for people on the move is either difficult to access or virtually non-existent as they continue with their journey inland," an IRC statement said.
The survey showed almost half of those interviewed lacked information about their legal situation in Italy, while 29% couldn't get enough food, with high inflation making it harder to meet basic needs.
Imogen Sudbery, IRC's Senior Director of Europe Advocacy, said Italy was a daunting first port of call for migrants seeking safety in Europe.
"It can take months to file an asylum claim, leaving people trapped in a state of legal limbo whereby they struggle to access education, job opportunities, housing and healthcare," she said.
European Union countries sealed a deal this month on how to handle irregular immigration at times of exceptionally high arrivals, taking a step towards overhauling the bloc's asylum and migration rules.
Sudbery urged the bloc to agree on an approach "rooted in solidarity and responsibility sharing".
"In addition to upholding the fundamental right to asylum, EU states must expand safe pathways for people to reach Europe so they are not forced to risk their lives on dangerous journeys in the first place," she said.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Gavin Jones and Mark Potter)