Migrant Crisis Causes Italian Island of Lampedusa to Declare A State of Emergency

A state of emergency has been declared on the Italian island of Lampedusa after 7,000 migrants arrived in only 48 hours.

The island measures 20 square kilometers and is located between Sicily and Tunisia. For more than a decade, it has served as a key landing site for those who are trying to cross into Europe. Lampedusa is a small island in the Mediterranean Sea that is located between the bigger Italian island of Sicily and the countries of Tunisia and Malta. It is the first stop for many migrants who are traveling to the European Union.

In an interview with a local radio station, the mayor of the island, Filippo Mannino, stated that the roughly 6,000 permanent residents of the island had "always welcomed" the new immigrants; nonetheless, the situation had grown unmanageable. "We have now reached a point of no return, and the island is in crisis," he added, pleading for the Italian state and the European Union to step in and quickly transport people abroad. "We have now reached a point where there is no turning back."

Don Carmelo Rizzo, the parish priest of the island, informed the media that the island was having trouble with water supply and waste disposal. He described the scenario as "apocalyptic" due to the fact that the island's welcome center could only accommodate 400 people. "There isn't even a place to put a bed or the possibility of going to the bathroom," he added. "For the new arrivals."

According to reports from the local media, there were chaotic scenes at a distribution station for food and water as individuals who had been waiting rushed forward in the concern that there might not be enough to go around.

The Italian Red Cross admitted that the large number of people was causing "management problems," but they stated that the police were contributing to the maintenance of order.

This circumstance piles more pressure on the hard-right administration of Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who campaigned on a promise to implement a "naval blockade" in order to prevent migrants from reaching Italy by boat.

Ms. Meloni was one of the European leaders who traveled to Tunisia in July as part of a delegation to celebrate the signing of an agreement between the EU and Tunisia to cooperate on the reduction of migration from the nation. As part of the agreement, the European Union would offer assistance in the amount of 105 million euros to bolster border controls and fight down on human smuggling.

During the discussion on the accord that took place this week in the European Parliament, there was a lot of criticism spoken.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have criticized the European Commission for disregarding a racist fear campaign conducted by Tunisian President Kassim Saed that led to targeted violence against black people in the nation. MEPs have also objected that a similar contract with Libya led to the EU paying the coastguard as it perpetuated human rights abuses.

According to the numbers provided by Italy, the issue on Lampedusa has brought to light the fact that the number of migrants arriving in Italy from Tunisia has grown ever since the agreement was reached. This has led local media to label the pact a "failure."

According to the Italian interior ministry, 125,928 persons have arrived in Italy via illegal boat crossings so far this year. A substantial portion of these migrants came from the Tunisian city of Sfax. The interior ministry named Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Tunisia as the most popular countries of origin, followed by Egypt, Bangladesh, and Burkina Faso.

Exhausted migrants were seen huddled together beneath the scorching heat and in close proximity to the security officers who were protecting the entrance of the center in video recordings. The scenario was described as "explosive" in several Italian media outlets.

Just on Tuesday, there were around 5,000 people who landed on the island. Due to Lampedusa's close proximity to the Tunisian port of Sfax, which is only 190 kilometers away, migration has been a major issue there for many years. On Wednesday evening, the municipal council issued a declaration of a state of emergency; however, it was not immediately obvious what implications this would carry.

On Thursday, migrants were scheduled to be transported to Sicily and the Italian mainland using ferries and police boats. The city's mayor, Filippo Mannino, has made a request to the government in Rome for increased financial and logistical help.

According to the accounts, there was complete anarchy as migrants sought to burst past obstacles while food and drink were being delivered on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, paramedics were spotted bringing weary patients out of the center to be treated outside of the building.

This year, Italy has already seen a greater number of migrants arrive by sea than in all of the previous year combined.

In comparison to the previous year's total of 65,500, the Italian Ministry of the Interior has documented 123,800 persons entering the country by boat since the beginning of the year. It is anticipated that the previous high of 181,000, which was reached in 2016, will be eclipsed this year.

There are presently 6,800 migrants housed at the receiving center that is located in the middle of the island. This number is more than the official population of Lampedusa and the neighboring island of Linosa, which is less than 6,500 people combined.

Mannino claims that the people in the area are in a dire situation. "Everyone has helped migrants in one way or another, but now it's time to find a structural solution," the mayor added. "It's time to find a permanent solution."

On Wednesday, a flotilla of flimsy boats, crammed with migrants and launched from Tunisia, flooded a little island in southern Italy. This put a strain on the capabilities of the coast guard to capture the smugglers' vessels and put Premier Giorgia Meloni's promise to stop illegal migration to the test.

The political pressure on Italy's first far-right leader was compounded by pledges made by France and Germany to turn away migrants who arrive by sea on Italian shores and then, in defiance of the rules governing the asylum system in the European Union, head northward to try to find jobs or relatives in those and other northern countries on the continent. France and Germany have both vowed to do this.

Over a period of just more than 24 hours, around 6,800 migrants arrived, which is a number that is a few hundred more than the permanent population of the island.

According to the Italian authorities, the increase in numbers was caused by a backlog in Tunisia's ports that lasted for several days and was caused by stormy waves. This meant that the people trying to transport migrants couldn't launch their boats.

The only migrant housing on the island has a capacity of roughly 450 beds, therefore the authorities were scrambling to transport the migrants to Sicily or Calabria, which are both located in the southernmost extremities of the Italian mainland. The transfer took place through commercial ferries or a coast guard ship.

A representative for the Italian Red Cross on Lampedusa named Francesca Basile stated that the organization was making a "huge effort" to offer "basic services" for the 6,000 migrants who are now housed at the center on Lampedusa.

According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, more than 120,000 migrants have landed in Italy by sea so far this year. Of those, more than 11,000 unaccompanied youngsters were among the group.

As they travel across Italy on their way to northern Italy, the majority of them do it on foot, in buses, and on trains.

This summer, there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants arriving from South Sudan, Sudan, and Eritrea, according to Andrea Costa, the president of Baobab Experience, a non-profit group in Rome that assists migrants who are in transit. Baobab Experience provides assistance to migrants.

Every evening, on a street in Rome, volunteers working with Baobab provide a hot dinner to refugees who have been living on the street.

The vast majority of them stay in Rome for a couple of nights before taking a bus to the town of Ventimiglia, which is located close to the French border.

Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister of Italy, criticized the other members of the EU for their lack of assistance and referred to the landings as "an act of war" and "a symbol of a socialist Europe."

At a conference held in Budapest, Meloni stated that while legal migration may have the potential to assist Europe economically, it is unlikely that it would be able to solve the continent's demographic challenge.

The European Commission stated in Brussels that it has been in contact with the Italian government to examine the potential of providing Lampedusa with more assistance.

While they waited on the quayside in Lampedusa to be moved to Sicily by ship, some migrants covered their heads with towels to protect themselves from the late summer heat. Others wore sunglasses to protect their eyes.

There is a welcome center for migrants on Lampedusa, although its declared capacity is only 400 people.

The number of migrants who arrived in the Canary Islands in the first two weeks of September more than tripled to 2,891 persons, according to preliminary statistics from Spain, another nation that is located on the southern frontier of the European Union.

According to Spain, one of the things that is fueling the growth is the instability in Senegal.

According to Matteo Villa, an expert in migration data analysis from the ISPI think tank in Milan, migrant arrivals to Italy this year are very close to the record number documented in 2016, which was more than 180,000 persons.

He stated that Lampedusa was under a lot of strain due to the fact that Tunisia, which is the nearest African nation, was the origin of 90% of the migrant boats that arrived in the past three months, and there were fewer search and rescue missions that might intercept migrants while they were at sea.

The actions of charity rescue boats have been regulated by the administration of Meloni, which has impounded their vessels, prohibited them from conducting numerous rescues, and required them to go farther distances before disembarking migrants.

Italy has made efforts to strengthen its connections with Tunisia, and in July, Tunis and the European Union inked a contract to reduce the number of migrants entering Europe. Despite these efforts, the pact has not had an immediate effect.