Migrant situation in Lampedusa declared as emergency by mayor

epa08576785 160 migrants, previously arrived in Lampedusa, on their arrival in Pozzallo, near Ragusa, Italy, 31 July 2020. They?ve all been swabbed for Covid-19. EPA-EFE/FRANCESCO RUTA

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The emergency migrant reception centre in Lampedusa has been declared closed by the mayor as there are a thousand people inside, a number ten times greater than the capacity foreseen by the structure.

Italian NewsAgency ANSA reports that this is not the only alarming situation in Italy as riots took place at the temporary reception centre in Turin, during which a carabiniere was injured.

The agency reports that five migrants who in the past few hours fled to the waters of the port off a ferry from Malta remain hospitalised in the Covid ward of the Livorno hospital.

Meanwhile, calls for help continue at sea: in the Mediterranean, reports of boats in difficulty continue, in particular a boat with 71 people off Malta for which Alarm Phone has sounded the alarm.

Landings in Lampedusa have resumed at full speed: seven ‘different’ ones have been recorded, directly on the mainland, in addition to the rescue of a small boat in the waters in front.

With the eight landings, the last with 52 migrants, the total number of arrivals was of 250.

950 are in the hotspot which has transformed the situation in an unsustainable one so much, that it pushed the mayor, Totò Martello, to call for an “immediate transfer of migrants” and “announce that the next ones who arrive will have to stay on the dock”.

Martello also asked Prime Minister Conte to declare a state of emergency “considering that in two weeks there were 250 landings. With five thousand people in 28 days, a number which is higher than in 2011, which had led the government declared a state of emergency”.

The director of the Lampedusa hotspot, Gian Lorenzo Marinese, described the situation as being “delicate”.

A few hours after the continuous appeals, the Prefecture of Agrigento has launched a new transfer plan: 170 migrants will leave the hotspot to reach Porto Empedocle, in Agrigento. The government’s plan to empty Lampedusa by transferring migrants to Pozzallo would not convince the city mayor Roberto Ammatuna: “I keep saying ‘no’ to the transfers in our marquee because it is full”.

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