A corner of the boat cemetery used by migrants to reach Lampedusa. | Photo: ANSA archive
A corner of the boat cemetery used by migrants to reach Lampedusa. | Photo: ANSA archive

The new Prefect of Agrigento, the Sicilian region that includes the island of Lampedusa, pledged to beef up intervention on the island in his inauguration speech on Tuesday (May 23).

Newly appointed Prefect of Agrigento Filippo Romano discussed the migrant situation in Lampedusa during his inauguration speech on Tuesday (May 23), offering a preview of measures he has planned for the island.

"My wish is to devise a system for Lampedusa that can function independently," he said, outlining plans to set up a permanent office on the island headed by a deputy Prefect with migration experience.

Romano is taking over the role previously held by Maria Rita Cocciufa, who has been transferred to Reggio Emilia.

Special waste following boat arrivals is a problem that must be solve

Romano said a task force will operate on the territory. The team will start by addressing the stocking of dangerous materials, such as fuel and the boats themselves, at Lampedusa.

"These are enormous problems for a small place like Lampedusa, where the Mayor is handling problems of international scope with a municipality that has structures for only a few thousand inhabitants," said Romano.

"We must find a way to support him financially. I'll give an example: if you have special waste that is the result of the boat arrivals, for such a small municipality, this becomes an additional burden," he said.

The newly appointed Prefect said he will address the areas where migrant dinghies, boats and their waste are kept.

"The former Loran base is not ready, it could be in three months. We need to find a temporary solution that will take us to the end of the summer season," he said.

Government mandate to oversee rapid transfers of migrants

"The government has given me the mandate for Lampedusa to oversee the most rapid migrant transit possible," Romano said. "Migrants should only touch the ground and then they should be transferred."

The new Prefect added that Lampedusa will also soon have its own police station -- possibly by the end of the month.

"This is a key aspect. Police stations are never placed in such small Municipalities. But there are historic reasons that provide the rationale to have the police", he added.

"For example, in the town of Cammarata, there is a Carabinieri (police) unit because the area used to be ridden with bandits. The Carabinieri (police) unit remained for the sake of tradition, but in reality, this is fortunate because today Cammarata does not have problems of criminality. We now have a historic reason that obliges us to go to Lampedusa," he said.


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