The migrant hotspot on the island of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Alessandro Di Meo
The migrant hotspot on the island of Lampedusa | Photo: ANSA/Alessandro Di Meo

A new building will open at the migrant hotspot on the Italian island of Lampedusa next week, following renovations. Now the center will provide room for 328 migrants instead of just 192.

The prefecture of Agrigento on Tuesday announced that work on a new building at Lampedusa's migrant hotspot had been completed. The center has often been overwhelmed by the large number of migrants arriving on the Italian island.

The new housing facility will provide 136 additional places for migrants. This building -- called "lotto 2" -- will open on November 23, according to the prefecture. "Work on the 'lotto 2' has been completed, except for a few touches and the furniture," the prefecture said.

Plans to expand capacity

The new building will provide a place to stay for up to 136 migrants. This means that the migrant hotspot in the Imbriacola area of Lampedusa will now have room for 328 people.

According to the prefecture, there are several other parts of the hotspot that are either currently being renovated or will be renovated in the future. Work on an external barrier will reportedly allow to increase security levels at the center. There's also a plan to build more lodgings and new police offices to ensure social distancing amid the COVID-19 emergency, the prefecture said.

Migrant arrivals on Lampedusa

Lampedusa -- a small Italian island located halfway between northern Africa and mainland Italy -- has seen a large number of migrant arrivals recently. Some migrants arrive on the island after they have been rescued, but many reach the island independently on small boats.

The local prefecture said that the hotspot in Lampedusa has dealt with the arrival of 4,000 migrants, including a high percentage of unaccompanied minors, recently. These migrants were reportedly tested for coronavirus before being transferred to new quarantine ships or hosting facilities in Sicily.

Hotspot on verge of collapse

Earlier in November, the migrant hotspot there was on the verge of collapse after at least 460 people arrived on Lampedusa less than a day.

The prefecture said that "migrants at the center, despite the high numbers, are provided with the necessary assistance with great dedication and humanity."

Officials said that "the Imbriacola center is frequently sanitized and the separation of guests is ensured, where it is possible." They also said that migrants are provided with facemasks but don't always wear them despite the work carried out by mediators on the ground.


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