Disembarkation on Lampedusa of a boat with about 67 people aboard that requested help from Alarm Phone, 8 April 2020 | Photo: ANSA
Disembarkation on Lampedusa of a boat with about 67 people aboard that requested help from Alarm Phone, 8 April 2020 | Photo: ANSA

Italy's guarantor for the rights of detainees continued to express his "concern" over the situation of migrant arrivals on the country's shores, in particular on the island of Lampedusa. The migrant reception center hotspot there is full and three disembarkations took place in the span of just a few hours between Monday and Tuesday.

Three migrant boat arrivals took place on Italy's Lampedusa island between Monday and Tuesday, and the island's migrant reception hotspot has been full for nearly a month. 

This situation is part of what is creating "concern" for Italy's guarantor for the rights of detainees due to the current pandemic. ,The arrivals are taking place "in a time of difficulty due to numbers, possibility for movement, and the need to prevent contagion."

"The island of Lampedusa is, as in other times, at the center of the difficulty and at the same time a junction towards other less precarious shelters for those who have come to its port," the guarantor said in his May 5 bulletin. 

He once again assured the Italian interior ministry of his "willingness to cooperate to find less problematic solutions for all stakeholders (migrants, island residents, workers, police forces) once, however, the unsustainability of the current situation is recognized". 

Disembarkations on Lampedusa 

The guarantor said that between Monday and Tuesday, official reports confirmed three disembarkations: One of 72 people, one of 64, and a third of 10. 

"Of the 146 people, who make up the overall total and include five children as well, one group of 82 people was transferred with a ship to Porto Empedocle, while the others, at the time of this bulletin writing (Tuesday), are still at Favaloro pier, some of whom even spent the night there". 

Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello called for the arrival of a quarantine ship, such as the one that went to Palermo on April 17, when 183 migrants were transferred to the ship Rubattino of the Tirrenia company. Those migrants left the quarantine ship on Monday, following negative tests for coronavirus. 

"On Lampedusa, there are multiple emergencies: One is called coronavirus and one migrants," Martello said. "We feel discriminated against. We don't understand why the ship was sent to the port of Palermo, when on Lampedusa people are left on the street. If the ship should continue to be delayed, we don't understand why the patrol boats, which are on Lampedusa or stationed near the island, don't transfer the rescued migrants directly to the mainland. This is Italy too, and the premier would do well to remind himself of that," Martello said. 

Intervention at a local level is urgent 

In the meantime, the NGO Sea-Watch sent a letter to the national guarantor expressing "serious concern over conditions to which foreign people accommodated on Lampedusa are being subjected in this period of emergency linked to the COVID-19 epidemic, and the subsequent accentuated vulnerability of those people." 

The NGO denounced conditions at the migrant reception center hotspot, which it said are decidedly inadequate to be considered a place of quarantine. 

The national guarantor agreed with the need "both for an urgent intervention on a local level, as well as for a broader strategic hypothesis regarding accommodation management in places and spaces that can allow for ensuring full respect for dignity among people."

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