Residents of Lampedusa display banners as they protest against the continuing migrant landings on the Sicilian island on August 31, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO
Residents of Lampedusa display banners as they protest against the continuing migrant landings on the Sicilian island on August 31, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO

Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello postponed a general strike on the Sicilian island, which had been called to protest the increase of migrant arrivals, after Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte invited Martello to Rome together with Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci, to discuss how to manage migrant reception.

Those on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa who don't want to block the island with a general strike are breathing a sigh of relief, but only partly. 

The island is still hosting summer tourists while at the same time facing a migrant emergency with nearly 1,200 crowded into its hotspot. 

The threat of a strike to protest the increase in migrant arrivals is, however, on hold for the moment given that on Wednesday, Lampedusa Mayor Totò Martello and Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci will travel to Rome and meet with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at Palazzo Chigi. 

The objective is to try to find a way to manage migrant reception, which has become impossible on Lampedusa. The migrant reception centre on the island, designed to accommodate 190, is currently bursting at the seams with six times that number while also facing the infection risks of COVID-19. 

Martello said the meeting means "the immigration problem becomes national, the whole government's problem." 

In the middle of it all are a group of Lampedusa residents protesting and fearing new arrivals, possibly postponed by rough seas and the remainders of the Mediterranean sirocco wind blowing across the island. 

Migrants transferred from Lampedusa 

Tension on Lampedusa has lifted slightly following the most recent arrival of 370 people who arrived on Saturday night on a fishing boat just a few miles off the coast. Those migrants brought the total at the hotspot to 1,500. Local residents and League party members protested, and the mayor threatened a strike against "the silence of the government". 

Two days later, aided by widespread exasperation, the migrants are starting to be transferred out of the hotspot in contrada Imbriacola. 

Between Sunday night and Monday morning, 307 migrants were transferred to Pozzallo and Porto Empedocle, where they were redistributed to the region of Abruzzo and other parts of Sicily. 

A total of 1,160 migrants currently remain at the center, Martello said. He confirmed that the deadline is approaching in coming hours for the call for tenders to send two private ships to alleviate the situation at the center. 

One of the ships will function to help move migrants out of the hotspot, and the other will be available for quarantine or other needs. 
 

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