Lampedusa, 8th April 2020 – Difficult situation on Lampedusa where, in the last few hours, three disembarkations have taken place, with a total of around 150 people.
Only those who arrived first, 34 men and women, have been received into the hotspot and placed under quarantine. Those who arrived shortly afterwards were stuck on the quayside, obliged to spend the night outside. Just as happened in mid-March, the fact that a number of migrants were already in the hotspost stopped those arriving afterwards from accessing it.
Meantime, during the course of today, a relatively large group of islanders began protests against the arrival of migrants, breaching social distancing directives and creating a very tense atmosphere.
This report arrives from Mediterranean Hope, refugee and migrant programme of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), which has remained present on the island throughout the weeks of the pandemic.
“Our primary concern,” states MH staff member Claudia Vitali, who, along with two volunteers, continues to ensure Mediterranean Hope’s presence on the island throughout this period of emergency, “is looking after the health of everyone, be they islanders or migrants. To that end, we would highlight that today the island is not capable of hosting people for a prolonged period in proper compliance with the health measures necessitated by the Covid-19 emergency. Therefore, those who arrive must immediately be transferred to places appropriate for quarantine and social distancing to assure the health of everyone.
We consider it to be irresponsible and unacceptable for individuals and politicians to continue to manipulate the crisis at the expense of the rights of citizens and migrants.”
And it is justly against such exploitation of the crisis, specifically what amounts to a closure of the ports by Italian institutions today, that Mediterranean Hope – Refugee and Migrant Programme of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), is lending its voice to an appeal just launched by the Tavolo Asilo (Asylum Board), to which FCEI belongs, and to whom this decision “appears inappropriate and unjustiifiable in that, with an administrative instrument in the form of secondary legislation, international law, at a higher level, is being suspended, thereby evading overriding responsibilities towards those whose lives are in danger”.