Lampedusa, Italy: The tiny Italian island of Lampedusa is facing a surge in migrant boats arriving from North Africa, with the number peaking at 7,000 people, even more than the entire island population, which generally had around 6,000.
The island’s reception centre, designed for fewer than 400 individuals, was overwhelmed, forcing many to sleep outside. Recent good weather has led to a significant increase in arrivals across Italy. Over 160 ships for 7,000 asylum seekers arrived at Lampedusa two days ago.
As tensions rose, the island declared a state of emergency. Police forces and other voluntary organizations are handling the situation on the island. The locals report that migrants gathered outside the operational centre called “Hotspot” and blocked the road leading to the centre.
The situation was handled during the day, but thousands of them still exist. The Italian Navy is also on the field to lighten the collapsing hotspot. Migrants are boarded on the Orione patrol vessel to be transferred.
Many have already been transferred to Sicily, as the island’s reception centre only has a capacity 400. Lampedusa is Italy’s southernmost island and is often the first port of call for people crossing from northern Africa.
Flavio Di Giacomo, the spokesperson of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)for Italy, noted that since the beginning of the year 2023, over 124,000 migrants have arrived by boat in various provinces of Italy. The figures also include the 7000 migrants who arrived at Lampedusa on September 13, 2023.
The Italian Coast Guard reported that on Tuesday night, a five-month-old kid died due to drowning in Lampedusa waters. The incident happened when a boat with 46 migrants on board was drowned.
The boat tipped just before the arrival of Italian Coast guards. They managed to save all adults but didn’t save the baby due to lack of information. They didn’t know a baby was also among the adults in the boat. The Coast Guard tried to rescue, but it was too late.
Recognizing the situation of Italian Island, the German government suspended its agreement with Italy to voluntarily accept refugees, accusing the Italian government of failing to fulfil its side of the agreement.