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Thousands of migrants arrive on Lampedusa despite warnings that Italy’s position may cost lives

Newcomers wait in the port in the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, August 27, 2023. The hotspot facility is well over capacity | Photo: Reuters/Tony Colapinto
Newcomers wait in the port in the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy, August 27, 2023. The hotspot facility is well over capacity | Photo: Reuters/Tony Colapinto
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Numerous refugees landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa over the weekend, but there is not enough space for all of them. Humanitarian groups are stating that Italy is endangering lives by impeding their ability to conduct rescue operations in the Mediterranean.


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The so-called Lampedusa migrant hotspot could accommodate about 400 people. The migrant receiving centre is currently housing up to 3,600 people, which is nine times its capacity, as more boats carrying migrants arrived on the island’s coasts last weekend. People now virtually instantly depart the island for the Italian mainland or the bigger island of Sicily due to the extreme congestion.

This year has seen a rise in migrants crossing the Central Mediterranean to Italy. As of Friday, the Italian interior ministry said there had been 107,530 arrivals so far, more than for the whole of last year when there were 105,140.

Visiting Lampedusa on Sunday, the minister for economic development Adolfo Urso said “Europe has to understand, that Italy may not be left alone in relation to the migration phenomenon.” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s cabinet is due to return from a summer break on Monday evening.

Ocean Viking brings rescued migrants to Italy

The private rescue ship Ocean Viking arrived Monday in Naples port with 254 migrants on board who had been rescued in the Mediterranean between Tunisia and Lampedusa. The ship, run by the aid organization SOS Méditerranée, had initially been directed to proceed to Genoa but was then told to head to Naples because of poor weather conditions affecting the north of the country.

During its mission, the ship had picked up a total of 440 people, including 90 unaccompanied minors, four pregnant women and six people with disability. One group was able to disembark in Vibo Valentia, a city in Italy’s southern Calabria region, on Sunday.

Meanwhile another civil rescue ship, Geo Barents, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), brought 168 migrants to the port of Brindisi, while Humanity 1 docked in Livorno habor on Sunday with 57 survivors on board.

Lives at risk, civil rescue ships say

The Berlin-based organization which operates Humanity 1, SOS Humanity, has called along with 55 other groups for Italian authorities to lift orders impounding three migrant rescue ships – Aurora, Open Arms and Sea-Eye 4. The ships were detained last week within 48 hours of each other, under what the groups say are illegitimate regulations.

Aurora and Sea Eye 4 have been detained twice this year, in addition to Geo Barents, Louise Michel, Mare*Go, and Open Arms. In total, activists say the private ships have been prevented from spending 160 days at sea when they would have been able to rescue people from boats in distress.

In a statement, the groups also criticized the Italian law (the so-called ‘Cutro Decree’) which allows authorities to order search and rescue ships to head to an assigned port immediately after a rescue, even when there are other migrant boats in distress in the vicinity of the NGO vessel.

The ports that are assigned are often unnecessarily distant, which NGOs say obstructs their rescue activities and puts the lives of rescued migrants in danger.

Mariella Hettich, from the group ‘Seebrücke’ (Sea Bridge), said Italy was continuing what began under the previous interior minister Matteo Salvini: “Playing with people’s lives, letting people die in the Mediterranean.” By impounding rescue ships, Italian authorities were once again preventing them from doing what Europe was failing to do – “saving lives”, she added.

The number of people known to have died or gone missing while attempting the Mediterranean crossing so far this year is over 2,250 – the highest death toll since 2017.

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Daily Dazzling Dawn is the first and only international and non-profitable newspaper, which is 100% ownership of professional journalists from Bangladeshi origin with 20 years of experience in global journalism. The main aim of the newspaper is promoting ethical journalism with truth, accuracy and proficiency.

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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