The Spanish Navy vessel Audaz in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio
The Spanish Navy vessel Audaz in the port of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio

Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello is criticizing the stall on transferring migrants rescued by the ship Open Arms, who are currently on the island, to Spain. "What's happening in Lampedusa is paradoxical," he said on Facebook. "Now those migrants are all on the island, with the migrant reception center full."

The Spanish military ship Audaz, which traveled to the island of Lampedusa to take aboard 15 migrants who had been rescued by the Spanish NGO Open Arms and take them to Spain, is still anchored at the mouth of the island's port.

An additional 30 migrants, who were aboard the Open Arms, were sent to migrant reception centers in Sicily. The Audaz left Spain on August 20 and took just under three days to reach Lampedusa, but the ship remains blocked as it awaits approval from Italian authorities to board the migrants.

Spanish navy ship blocked in port

The island's hotspot has an official capacity of 92 people but there are currently over 200 migrants being hosted. Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello expressed his frustration."What is happening is paradoxical," he said. "First they kept the migrants aboard the Open Arms for nearly 20 days off our island's coast, and there were those who never would have wanted to let them disembark. Now those migrants are all on the island, with the reception center overcrowded," he added.

"In the meantime, a Spanish navy ship has arrived and is blocked in front of our port," Martello continued. "They are ready to transfer some of the migrants to Spain, but those who first wanted to prevent the disembarkation are now not authorizing their transfer," he said.

Migrants still here

"After arriving at the island's reception center, the migrants are supposed to stay 48 hours to a maximum of 72 hours and then be transferred to adequate structures. All of the people who were aboard the Open Arms are still here. Together with them are other migrants who arrived recently. It remains to be seen if this situation is just the result of a communication gap or rather a specific desire to create tension on our island," Martello said.

Meanwhile, migrant boats are continuing to depart from Libya in an attempt to reach the island of Sicily. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced the most recent in a tweet on Saturday."Two rubber dinghies with about 100 migrants aboard in the Mediterranean, the Libyan Coast Guard is working to rescue them and bring them back to land. If we give in to traffickers and NGOs, and the ports reopen, it's over! Stop disembarkations, stop deaths."


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