Migrants disembark from the Italian Coast Guard class 300 patrol boat that, in waters of the Maltese search-and-rescue area, transported 49 migrants from a larger group of 130 who were rescued by the ship Louise Michel, Lampedusa, Italy, 29 August 2020 | PHOTO ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO
Migrants disembark from the Italian Coast Guard class 300 patrol boat that, in waters of the Maltese search-and-rescue area, transported 49 migrants from a larger group of 130 who were rescued by the ship Louise Michel, Lampedusa, Italy, 29 August 2020 | PHOTO ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO

The Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI) is appealing for the opening of legal European channels for migrants, following the massive arrival that took place on Lampedusa during the night between Saturday and Sunday.

Paolo Naso, coordinator of Mediterranean Hope, the migrant and refugee programme of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI), is calling on behalf of the organisation for the opening of "legal, safe channels managed on a European level" to help the fight against illegal migration.

"With over 300 people arriving on Lampedusa, the situation on the island is undeniably unsustainable -- first of all for the migrants, who are forced, after everything they've been through, into an overcrowded facility -- but also for residents and tourists," Naso said, referring to the massive migrant arrival on the island overnight between Saturday and Sunday. 

FCEI has been present on Lampedusa since 2013. 

Activate immediate reception networks 

"For our part, we are working on the arrivals, to help the associations and institutions manage the initial moments of these peoples' arrival," Naso said. "We are calling forcefully for the immediate activation of networks, including temporary ones, for the swift reception of the most vulnerable people," he said. 

"As Protestant churches, we are ready to collaborate with institutions and other associations to search for solutions tied to this urgent situation. We are facing an emergency that was, however, completely predictable, given the conditions in Tunisia and Libya," he said. 

Solidarity to those who save lives in the Mediterranean 

"We repeat, the only strategy to fight 'irregular' migration is that of opening legal, safe channels managed on a European level," Naso said. 

"In the meantime, our maximum solidarity goes to those who continue to save lives in the Mediterranean. While others scream words of hate, that risk provoking violence, we are choosing to welcome," he said. 

"And finally, our condolences for the young victim who was brought to Lampedusa on Saturday on the Louise Michel, for whom on Sunday morning we had a moment of silence and memory."
 

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