Thousands of migrants rescued by Italian authorities and currently awaiting relocation clashed with police on Wednesday after demanding to be moved to suitable accommodation.
Italy is facing a growing flow of migrants, overwhelming its already saturated landing sites, where thousands of migrants wait to be transferred to reception centers that are also full. On the island of Lampedusa in Sicily, many barges queue up waiting to disembark, while rescuers are put to the test and tensions continue to rise.
On Wednesday, clashes broke out between migrants stationed at the Favaloro pier in Lampedusa and the police forces responsible for controlling the area.
Hundreds of people demonstrated, demanding to leave the pier and be relocated, but authorities had to carry out a “blitz” to prevent escalation and possible violence.
“The question of relocation (to other EU countries) is secondary. Very few people have been relocated in recent months. It’s a Linus blanket. The question is not how to solve the problem; it’s about how to stop arrivals in Italy, and I still don’t see concrete answers,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Rai 1.
In total, 6,762 migrants landed on the island, including 257 minors. Most are in the Contrada Imbriacola hotspot, while other groups have been forced to stay in other parts of the island, mainly at the Favarolo pier, due to lack of space.
Several transfers to other Italian regions are underway to relieve pressure on the island’s reception centers, which have become the first disembarkation point for people arriving in Italy from North Africa, with Tunisia and Libya being the main countries of origin.
The utter chaos was compounded by tragedy: a five-month-old baby drowned after falling into the water just before rescue operations began. The baby’s body was found and taken to the island morgue. Psychological support was sought for the mother, a minor from Guinea.
“Solutions cannot be found at national level, but only at European level. I think there is no other choice than to conclude the migration pact. Citizens from all EU countries have asked us to find solutions,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said at a press briefing in Brussels.
“Ten years after the Lampedusa tragedy, we still have not done enough,” she admitted.
(Federica Pascale | Euractiv.it)