The initial reception center for migrants on Lampedusa is overcrowded, with thousands of people arriving every day. Upon arrival, chaotic scenes take place; a few days ago a baby drowned. Meanwhile, Germany is stopping the voluntary admission of migrants from Italy.
Several thousand boat migrants are again arriving on the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa every day. The authorities registered more than 5,000 people within 24 hours on Tuesday, according to figures from the Interior Ministry on Wednesday. The Ansa news agency reported more than 5,100 – more than ever before in a single day. A tragic accident occurred on Wednesday night: While trying to bring a five-month-old child to land, the infant fell into the water and drowned.
The city council of the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa has declared a state of emergency in view of thousands of newly arrived boat migrants. Mayor Filippo Mannino announced this on Wednesday evening, as reported by the Ansa news agency. He called for more support for the small island, which is under “great stress”. The citizens of Lampedusa are desperate. “Everyone has helped in some way the migrants who needed help. But now it’s really time to look for a structural solution,” Mannino continued. It was initially unclear what specific effects the declaration of a state of emergency would have in the municipality.
The island between Sicily and North Africa has been one of the hotspots of migration to Europe for years. The situation on Tuesday was confusing, which is why there was initially talk of 2,500 arrivals. After a period in which fewer migrants landed on the island, Lampedusa is again having to cope with thousands of new arrivals. According to figures from the Interior Ministry in Rome, more than 123,800 people have been registered to reach Italy on boats since the beginning of the year – last year there were 65,500 from January to mid-September. If the trend continues, the record number from 2016 could even be exceeded by the end of the year. At that time 181,000 people came.
Germany suspends voluntary admission of migrants
Dealing with migrants is also causing new discussions between the federal government and the right-wing government in Italy. Berlin suspended a program for the voluntary admission of migrants from Italy, the Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed. The “Welt” reported first. Germany had originally promised to take in 3,500 asylum seekers from particularly troubled countries at Europe’s external borders in the south. So far, 1,700 people seeking protection have been transferred via the so-called voluntary European solidarity mechanism so that they can complete their asylum procedure in Germany.
Further admissions are no longer planned, also because there are problems with the readmission of migrants according to the so-called Dublin rules, according to the ministry. These rules stipulate that asylum seekers must – with a few exceptional cases – submit their application in the first EU country in which they were registered. Anyone who tries to do so in another country can be sent back there.
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“In view of the existing high migration pressure to Germany, the ongoing suspension of Dublin transfers by some member states, including Italy, reinforces the major challenges that Germany is currently facing in terms of its reception and accommodation capacities,” said a ministry spokesman. By the end of August, only ten Dublin transfers to Italy had taken place. Rome has been informed that the selection process for migrants will be postponed.
Mayor of Lampedusa: “Situation intolerable”
“Immigration is a European problem,” wrote Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on the online platform X (formerly Twitter). It must be solved with the participation of all EU countries. EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola also emphasized that the solutions do not lie at the national level, but only at the European level.
Lampedusa is 190 kilometers from the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax, where many refugee boats depart for Europe. Accidents with fatalities occur again and again during the highly dangerous crossings. Mayor Filippo Mannino described the situation as no longer sustainable. “Against this background, it is impossible to guarantee adequate assistance for migrants, despite immense logistical efforts.”
The initial reception center with space for around 400 people is again overcrowded. Almost 6,800 migrants are currently on the island – most of them in the camp. Mannino called for boats carrying migrants to be intercepted and taken to Sicily or the mainland. The family of the drowned child made their way to Europe from the West African country of Guinea. The mother is a minor.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.