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Migration to Italy increases: “difficult situation”

Updated 14:21 | Posted at 11:47 am

100,000 people. So far this year, there have been nearly as many migrants to Italy across the Mediterranean as in all of 2022.

In Lampedusa, intense work is being done on their dignified reception.

– Everyone has the right to salvation, says Ignazio Cento, head of emergency operations and aid for the Italian Red Cross on the island.

The flow of migrants to Italy across the Mediterranean shows no signs of slowing down. So far this year, 100,000 people have arrived in the country, which is roughly the 105,000 people who arrived in all of 2022, according to La Repubblica.

For many migrants, the reception center in Lampedusa off the coast of Sicily is the first stop in Europe. But the facility, which previously accommodated about 400 people, has been overburdened for a long time.

More bathrooms

In June, the Italian Red Cross took over the operation. According to Ignacio Shinto, the organisation’s chief of emergency operations and relief, extensive work is underway to improve conditions.

– We have increased the number of bathrooms, kitchens and beds, which means we can receive 2,500-3,000 people within 48-72 hours. And we’re working to ensure that these people receive a gracious reception and don’t stay here too long, which used to be an issue, he told TT.

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According to Shinto, the migrants stay an average of only a day and a half in Lampedusa before they are transferred to reception centers in other parts of Italy.

One of the conditions we set for the Italian government to take over in Lampedusa was for things to go faster.

Cities are sounding the alarm

The large increase in immigrants is also reflected in the number of asylum seekers. 130,000 people have requested asylum in Italy so far this year, which is 35,000 more than in the same period in 2022 and the highest number since 2018.

The surge has the authorities in several Italian cities increasingly raising the alarm about a breakdown in refugee reception. Among other places in Verona, Bologna and Florence, overcrowded reception centers led to migrants being forced to sleep in tents, La Nazioni wrote.

Criticism is also directed at the right-wing government led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Before the 2022 elections, I promised, among other things, to prevent migrant boats from leaving countries like Tunisia and Libya.

Stefano Bonaccini, the Social Democratic governor of the Emilia-Romagna region, wrote on Platform X that the policy had led to many cities being placed in a state of emergency.

“The only thing the right has shown is that it is unable to control the flow of immigrants. The number of immigrants has quadrupled since the government came to power,” he added.

“No man is illegal”

However, Ignazio Cento maintains that it is not the sole responsibility of the Italian government to resolve the difficult situation. Rather, it calls for concerted European efforts.

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– We find ourselves today in a difficult situation, but if all EU countries assume joint responsibility, we can resolve this situation, he says.

– Having said that, even the Italian governments of the last fifteen years have done little.

Nor is there any indication of a decrease in the flow of immigrants.

Shinto points out that refugee smugglers are now crossing the Mediterranean even during the winter months, which has not happened before. He warns that the efforts of the Red Cross in Lampedusa will continue.

Every person has the right to be saved. There is no illegitimate person.