Italy, regions in revolt, 'stop migrant transfers'

Situation is critical in Lampedusa

20 August, 09:10

    (ANSAmed) - ROMA, 20 AGO - Situation is critical in Lampedusa. A quarantine ship docked on the island, will take about 250 migrants on board Migrant landings continue to hit Italian shores, and the country's interior ministry is struggling to cope with the complicated task of alleviating overcrowding at the migrant hotspot on the island of Lampedusa. The hotspot, which has a maximum capacity of 190, is currently bursting at the seams with more than 1,000 people.

    Meanwhile, a ship that will be used to quarantine migrants managed to dock at the port of the island on Wednesday after several failed attempts. The quarantine ship will take on 250 migrants.

    The ministry's strategy is to transfer small groups to various regions throughout the country. However, the number of regional governors calling for a stop to the transfers is on the rise, as they are facing difficulty managing the migrants amidst an uptick in Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, after a migrant shipwreck on Monday that sources said left dozens dead, Alarm Phone reported a rubber dinghy struggling off the coast of Libya with about 150 people aboard, as well as another boat of 150 migrants in the Maltese search-and-rescue (SAR) zone.

    Increasing landings on Lampedusa A total of six landings took place in recent hours on the island of Lampedusa, bringing 240 arrivals to the island. Sicily Governor Nello Musumeci said the island is "under assault". "But according to Rome, it doesn't deserve the declaration of a state of emergency," Musumeci said. "I'm asking Premier Conte to at least explain why? What did the people of Lampedusa do that was so vile that they must now endure this wave by themselves?" he said. The long wave of landings is arriving as far as Piedmont, with 76 migrants from the island to be transferred to the hub of Castello d'Annone in the province of Asti. But Piedmont Governor Alberto Cirio said he's had enough. "The government has made fools of us. There was a commitment with the interior ministry that other migrants wouldn't be sent to Piedmont, but it was disregarded. Piedmont can't do it anymore, above all in this particular moment," he said. Molise Governor Donato Toma took the same tone after learning of the plan to send a group of migrants to the reception centre in Campolieto, in the province of Campobasso. Toma sent a letter to the premier and ministers highlighting that the transfer "would create reasons for tension and concern" given that "we are facing a very delicate situation, due to the reentry in the region of Molise residents who vacationed abroad, including in countries that are hard hit by Covid-19".

    Protests also in Sardinia, fear of Covid-19 Sardinia Governor Christian Solinas is opposed to the transfer of migrants from the CPA initial reception centre in Monastir to another facility in Tonara, in the province of Nuoro. "There is the concrete danger that the virus can spread across the island, and we are strongly against this," Solinas said. "These people, who aren't fleeing any war, must be immediately repatriated," he said. The interior ministry was counting on a quarantine ship, the "Aurelia", to help alleviate the pressure on the local territory from the arriving migrants and the task of having to conduct Covid-19 tests on them. However, the ship didn't manage to dock at the island's port on Tuesday after several attempts in strong winds and with extremely limited space for the maneuver. On Wednesday, the ship successfully docked and 250 migrants from the island's hotspot were expected to board.

    Meanwhile, hopes are high that an official visit to Tunis by Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, which took place Tuesday, will provide positive results in terms of slowing migrant departures from that country.

    (An Italian Coast Guard unit escorts a boat full of migrants to Lampedusa. Photo: ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO) (ANSA).

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