Rising tensions are evident in Lampedusa, a quaint Italian island near Sicily, as around 6,700 migrants arrived recently, many hoping for relocation within the European Union.
Due to its close distance to Africa, Lampedusa has historically been a migrant hotspot. The island is grappling with a surge in arrivals, stretching its reception centers to the brim and placing enormous strain on emergency responders.
Over this week, about 120 boats docked on the southern Italian coast, as disclosed by Italy’s Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, Matteo Salvini and Deputy Prime Minister. Astonishingly, the influx of migrants, which includes 257 minors, has surpassed the total population of this southern Italian island.
Lampedusa’s Mayor, Filippo Mannino, passionately appealed, “We are exhausted; we need assistance in manpower and resources.” Video footage circulating on X, previously known as Twitter, depicts the crowded conditions on the island, with some migrants attempting to scale walls at processing areas.
On a recent Wednesday, tensions escalated as migrants at the Favaloro pier confronted Italian police, demanding relocation. However, the situation was defused without further escalation, as reported by news agency Euractive. Following this, the mayor declared an emergency, prompting islanders to rally to support the migrants. Il Corriere said local churches became sanctuaries, and residents even participated in sea rescues.
The Sicilian local government and Rome’s officials acknowledged the situation, pledging to alleviate Lampedusa’s strain by transferring migrants to the mainland.
Though Lampedusa, located just 70 miles from Africa, has seen similar challenges, the current numbers are unparalleled. They could politically challenge Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s administration, known for its strict immigration stance. Since the year began, approximately 118,500 sea migrants have reached Italy, reports Reuters, a statistic contrasting Meloni’s campaign promises.
Regarding the migration dilemma, Meloni commented on Rai 1, stating that the main concern isn’t shifting the problem elsewhere in the EU but addressing the surge in arrivals to Italy.
Reflecting on the 2013 Lampedusa tragedy, which resulted in nearly 360 fatalities, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said, “A decade later, our efforts remain insufficient.” She emphasized the need for a collective European solution, advocating the completion of the migration pact.