Migrants on Lampedusa, ‚Relocations to Avoid Overcrowded Hotspots‘

Redattoresociale.it – Last weekend, 230 people arrived: 82 on the Ocean Viking, the rest through autonomous landings. The phenomenon of small boats coming from Tunisia remains constant and unbroken. ‚The goal is to avoid discomfort for migrants and the local population.‘

ROME – ‚Fast relocations are the only way to respect the dignity of the rescued people, protect their basic rights, and at the same time ensure the delicate balance within the local population.‘ This is emphasized by Alberto Mallardo, advisor to Mediterranean Hope in Lampedusa, right after new arrivals last weekend again highlighted the island and ignited new controversies. The mayor of Lampedusa said clearly: ‚We are hospitable, not idiots.‘ During the weekend, 230 people in total arrived: 82 on the Ocean Viking, the boat of Doctors without Borders and Sos Mediterranèe. The others arrived mostly alone and on small boats through so called ‚autonomous landings‘, i.e., without having been intercepted by authorities. Among them are 45 unaccompanied minors and 34 women (of whom 3 are pregnant).

The last few months, this phenomenon has been constant, the arrivals without pause, of small number; a few even numbered less than ten people. The main problem however remains the island’s hotspot which offers only few places and is rapidly overcrowded. ‚This morning, 70 people were relocated: the maximal capacity of the structure is 96 spots while 160 arrivals still remain: We are therefore of the opinion that in order to protect the residents‘ dignity and rights they should be relocated, but also’ – Mallardo adds – ‚because appropriate admission avoids inconveniences on the island and protects the welfare of the local population. Some flaws are of a structural nature, but they alone cannot make the situation on this island explosive.’

Mallardo, who has been monitoring the migration flows to Lampedusa for seven years, recalls that since the beginning of the year around 2400 people have arrived here (just shy of half of the total arrivals in Italy, which by today count 5800 people, took place by sea). ‚Among the more than two thousand registrants only a small part were brought here by a NGO‘s humanitarian boat. More than 70 percent are autonomous landings,’ he adds. ‚They take off in small boats mostly from Tunisia. In the last two days, shortly before the election, there was a significant rise. We have no indications that connect this rise with the political situation or the weather conditions: The weather is good and the sea calm. It is however a fact we noticed that it is not just Tunisians but people from the Ivory Coast as well coming here out of Tunisia.’

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Translated by Christian Lamp