Migrants at the Lampedusa reception center | Credit: Foto archivo/ANSA
Migrants at the Lampedusa reception center | Credit: Foto archivo/ANSA

With migrants waiting for long periods on Lampedusa to be transferred to the Italian mainland, tensions have erupted into violence. Mauro Palma, Italy's ombudsman for the rights of people who have been detained, will be assessing the situation on Wednesday.

Tensions have risen in recent days inside the migrant center on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. Arguments turned violent, resulting in one man being stabbed and stones being thrown at police. 

Italy's national ombudsman for the rights of persons detained and deprived of their liberty, Mauro Palma, will be visiting the island on Wednesday for an on-the-ground assessment of "centers of administrative detention for migrants in Italy, as well as forced repatriation operations, on the level of human rights. At the same time, a collaboration agreement between the national watchdog authority and the regional Sicilian authorities will be presented on the issue of monitoring forced repatriation," it has been announced.

Violent incidents 

It is alleged that an argument between two Tunisian men escalated into two groups fighting each other, and resulted in one man being stabbed. Stones were then thrown at police and one officer was hit in the head. He suffered only minor injuries. 

Tense atmosphere 

"History keeps repeating itself," the mayor of Lampedusa told the ANSA news agency. "It is not possible to keep so many Tunisians in the center and use the entire island for migrants. If the law says that they cannot leave the facilities, then they should not be able to walk around freely in the streets." 

The atmosphere has been tense on the island for weeks, with local houses for tourists being damaged, as well as violent incidents and brawls. In early January, a young Tunisian man was found hanged in a cottage near the island's reception center. He had landed on Lampedusa on October 30, 2017, and psychologists had immediately recommended that he be transferred off the island due to clear signs of psychological trauma. 

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