A cat called Lola has joined the tens of thousands of people this year who have made the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, traveling from Sudan to Italy in a bag, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported on Monday.
Lola made the journey with her owner Sama, a 24-year-old woman from Sudan, La Repubblica reported.
The pair had traveled north to Libya and embarked on a boat to cross the Mediterranean. Their vessel was then picked up by a British rescue ship that brought them to Lampedusa, an Italian island that is a popular landing point for boats of asylum seekers and economic migrants trying to reach Europe.
TV footage on the Italian newspaper's website shows aid workers calming Sama, whose surname was not given in the article, after she disembarked and Lola was held back. The island's mayor and a doctor then intervened to save the cat, who will now be reunited with Sama after being vaccinated, according to the newspaper.
European countries are scrambling to deal with a sharp jump in the numbers of people from the Middle East and Africa crossing the Mediterranean this year — and the high numbers of people dying when rickety boats capsize.
Around 75,500 people have made the Mediterranean crossing this year, a 50% increase on the same period last year, according to the U.N. refugee agency's data at the end of May. Around 1,800 migrants had died trying to make the crossing since January, according to the U.N.