A migrant carrying a baby enters the Lampedusa hotspot, which is overcrowded following the arrival of migrants rescued by the Open Arms | ANSA/Elio Desiderio
A migrant carrying a baby enters the Lampedusa hotspot, which is overcrowded following the arrival of migrants rescued by the Open Arms | ANSA/Elio Desiderio

The Italian Interior Ministry said the European Commission is planning to distribute the 80 migrants rescued by NGO rescue vessel Open Arms. The migrants, currently on the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, will be received by EU countries that have expressed willingness to take them in. Meanwhile, an Italian polician said the situation on Lampedusa is becoming increasingly unsustainable.

According to sources within Italy's Interior Ministry, the European Commission (EC) is planning the distribution of 80 migrants stuck on the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily to European countries that have "expressed availability."

The migrants had disembarked from Spanish search and rescue (SAR) vessel Open Arms on August 20th after the boat's crew had rescued them almost 3 weeks earlier.

Initially, there were at least 147 migrants on board the Open Arms, but as days passed some were evacuated for medical care, and all minors were allowed to disembark.

Since the embarkation on Lampedusa, some of the rescued migrants were brought to reception centers on Sicily, some 350 kilometers north of Lampedusa. Spanish naval vessel Audaz is currently there to take aboard 15 of them and bring them to Spain.

According to the planned distribution, France and Germany will each take in 40 migrants, Spain 15, Portugal 10 and Luxembourg two. As a next step, the EC will evaluate the proposals by individual countries and then communicate the methods and times for the transfer of the migrants, according to the said sources.

Situation on Lampedusa 'unsustainable'

Meanwhile, Italian Senator Gregorio De Falco called the situation inside and outside the center in Contrada Imbriacola on Lampedusa "absolutely unsustainable." The politician had visited the hotspot on the island.

According to De Falco, the inspection was called for by the citizens of Lampedusa. They were "concerned by the tension caused by the inexplicable extension of the stay of dozens of young Tunisians in the center," De Falco said.

The senator further spoke of 182 people, including seven women and 21 minors, whose basic needs weren't met. "They have been forced for days and days to live in degrading conditions, in spaces designed for a maximum of 96 people." According to De Falco, some of them reached Lampedusa on August 10.

De Falco also lamented a lack of "complete hygiene kits" and public telephones. "Meals are consumed outside because there isn't enough space for eating or socializing, while stray dogs and ill people roam around inside the center," he said.

"You can't ask this island, which makes its living from tourism, to take on the mistakes and responsibilities that are due exclusively to our government, which has literally abandoned Lampedusa and cancelled its needs from the political agenda," De Falco said.

 

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