A boat with 21 Tunisians aboard arrives amid tourists on Lampedusa's Conigli Island beach, September 14, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Concetta Rizzo
A boat with 21 Tunisians aboard arrives amid tourists on Lampedusa's Conigli Island beach, September 14, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Concetta Rizzo

At the weekend, dozens of migrants disembarked autonomously on the coasts of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where independent arrivals by sea are becoming increasingly more frequent.

Little by little, one boat at a time, a few dozen people disembark on Lampedusa, where the number of migrants arriving on small independent boats is nearly the same as those rescued at sea. On Sunday September 15, 13 Tunisians disembarked from a wooden boat that arrived in Tabaccara, a rocky bay along the coast of Lampedusa, facing the white sands of Conigli island. 

This is also where, on Saturday, sunbathers enjoying a marvellous sunset were surprized by the arrival of a small motorboat from which 21 Tunisians disembarked. 12 Tunisians arrived in Lampedusa on a small boat and nine other migrants arrived on the rocky, uninhabited island of Lampione. 

Meanwhile, nearby, the Guardia di Finanza (Italian finance police) and the port authority rescued 78 Cameroonian and Tunisian migrants from a boat off the island's coast. 

All of this took place at the same time as 82 migrants rescued at sea were transferred from the ship Ocean Viking to patrol boats and taken to the island. Of those, 58 will be transferred to Germany, France, Portugal, and Luxembourg, while the remaining 24 will remain in Italy. 

Distribution mechanism

Italian Deputy Interior Minister Vito Crimi spoke about this distribution mechanism on Sunday. "Seventy percent should be the minimum amount," Crimi said, referring to the percentage of migrants that should be taken in by other countries. 

On Sunday, the Italian Coast Guard conducted an inspection aboard the Ocean Viking, the ship run by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The inspection was to check the ship was respecting international laws on navigational security. These checks have previously been carried out on the ships of other humanitarian organizations as well. 

Lampedusa hotspot overcrowded 

All of the migrants were taken to the Lampedusa hotspot in the district of Imbriacola, where, following recent arrivals there are now 224 migrants despite a maximum capacity of 95. 

Italy's interior minister assured Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello that at least 100 migrants will be transferred within the next 48 hours. Meanwhile, a search for four Tunisians who went missing on Wednesday night still hasn't turned up any results. 

The Tunisians were on a boat with three other migrants and, according to reports, jumped in the water off the island of Marettimo in the province of Trapani because the boat was damaged. Of the three other migrants, two remained on the boat and were rescued there, while the third jumped in the water as well but was rescued at sea while clinging to a plastic container that he was using as a floatation device.

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