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UNDERSTAND IT ALL – Italy: what is happening in Lampedusa, which is facing a massive influx of migrants?

The Italian island of Lampedusa is facing an influx of more than 7,000 migrants who have arrived on its shores in the last two days. The reception center provided for this purpose has capacity for less than 400 people.

120 boats in 24 hours according to the Italian Red Cross. The small Italian island of Lampedusa is struggling this Thursday to cope with the influx of migrants from North Africa. A surprise and massive arrival that pushed the town to declare a state of local emergency.

• What is happening on the Italian island?

The days of good weather have led to an increase in crossings in recent days: more than 5,000 people arrived in Italy on Tuesday alone, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior, and almost 3,000 on Wednesday. Most were picked up at sea in improvised boats by the coast guard who took them to the port of Lampedusa, one of the first stopping points for migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

Consequence: the reception center built to accommodate less than 400 people is overflowing.

“It is not a problem of migration but of reception. There are not sufficient means to welcome people in a dignified manner,” Jean-Claude Samouiller, president of Amnesty International France, warned on BFMTV.

Some 5,000 people were due to be transferred by the end of Thursday to Sicily, where there are larger reception centers.

• How to explain this massive influx?

Nearly 124,000 migrants have arrived on Italian shores since the beginning of the year, compared to 65,500 during the same period last year. The Italian Red Cross, which has run the Lampedusa migrant reception center since June and promises to offer more “dignified” reception, admitted this week that it was having difficulties with the influx of migrants.

The number of immigrants registered in recent days is described as “exceptional” by the general director of France Terre d’Asile, Delphine Rouilleault, who speaks of a “humanitarian tragedy.”

“Ten days have passed since there was a boat crossing, we have a kind of recovery effect,” he explains on BFMTV, while emphasizing:

“There are not between 6,000 and 7,000 people arriving every day in Lampedusa, that is important to say”

This “very significant increase since February” in arrivals to the Italian island is explained, according to the association’s general director, by “an evolution of migratory routes.” “People were leaving Libya and now they are leaving Sfax, in Tunisia, due to the country’s economic crisis,” he explains on BFMTV.

Lampedusa: 120 migrant boats in 24 hours – 09/14


Head of government Giorgia Meloni, elected a year ago on a promise to end mass immigration, is asking the European Union for help. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the (anti-immigration) League, said he viewed these mass arrivals as “an act of war” against Italy.

“It is an immense problem that affects all of Europe and that will become increasingly pressing, just like the climate tragedy,” Michel Martone, former Italian Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, warns this Thursday afternoon on BFMTV.

“The only answer is solidarity, we are in a moment in which the Italian State does not have sufficient resources to help families […] It cannot only be the solidarity of the inhabitants of Lampedusa, but a greater solidarity,” continued the former vice minister. An opinion shared by Delphine Rouilleault, who advocates for a rapid transfer of immigrants from Lampedusa to the European continent.

“Above all, European countries must commit to sharing the burden of reception. We cannot expect Italy to commit and assume this responsibility alone,” he added.

In France, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin called a meeting on Friday to discuss the Italian migration situation.

• What reaction in Italy?

The far-right Italian government recently allocated €45 million to Lampedusa to help the island better manage the migrant situation. The left-wing opposition, for its part, joked about the failure of the policy of Giorgia Meloni-Matteo Salvini, who pledged during the 2022 legislative campaign to “stop” migrant boats. The head of the Italian Government is currently traveling to Hungary to attend a summit dedicated to birth rates.

“Meloni is a victim of his propaganda and his contradictions. Italians will see that he has not kept his promises,” said Sandro Gozi, former minister in Matteo Renzi’s Italian government and MEP, on BFMTV.

Marion Maréchal, head of the European 2024 list of the French Reconquista party and supporter of Giorgia Meloni’s post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia formation, was expected on Thursday afternoon in Lampedusa.

Author: Hugues Garnier with AFP
Source: BFM TV

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