In Lampedusa the situation is critical: there are over 1500 migrants on the island and the citizens are exhausted. The mayor is ready to declare an immediate general strike
Lampedusa’s patience has reached its limit. Latest landing on Saturday night on the island raised tensions once again with Lampedusans flocking to the pier for a spontaneous protest. 450 Tunisians arrived yesterday aboard a fishing boat , which suddenly appeared 4 miles off the coast of Lampedusa.
It was the patrol boats of the Coast Guard and the Guardia di Finanza that intercepted this boat and escorted it to the port, where they then disembarked. All this while the two fully loaded ships of the NGO Sea Watch are heading to the Sicilian coast to ask for a safe harbour. “Conte’s silence is frightening,” said the mayor of Lampedusa Martello.
Lampedusa is a powder keg ready to explode and now mayor Totò Martello, after the peaceful revolt of its citizens has raised the tone against the government even further. Now the island is threatening a general strike and it is Totò Martello himself who declares it. “Tomorrow morning, I will call the representatives of the island’s trade associations and we’ll lower the shutters and declare a general strike as the national government continues to maintain a frightening silence. Can anyone remind #Conte that Lampedusa is Italian?” says the mayor. “Lampedusa is dying, Lampedusa says enough” shouted the men and women protesting at this latest landing as they asked for the immediate intervention of Minister Lamorgese.
The island hotspot is home to 1,100 migrants and has only the capacity for another 200, so much so that the latest arrivals have been transferred to an ecclesiastically run facility. The anger of the citizens is highly apparent, as is the concern of the people who feel abandoned by their distracted state, who live on an island too far from a central government for this to really understand the drama that is unfolding in this patch of Italy which is closest to Africa. “I can understand that you don’t see the small boats coming. But if a fishing boat of this size with hundreds of people arrives here and nobody notices it, it means that there is no control in the Mediterranean,” adds Totò Martello referring to the phantom arrival of a boat of over 100 tons. Is it possible that it had not been sighted before? “But what do military ships do? We’re not at war, why don’t they use them for security interventions at sea, and to transfer migrants?” continues the mayor of Lampedusa.
The concern of the islanders, among other things, is linked to the non-compliance with anti-Covid regulations by quarantined migrants, who, as commonly witnessed, circulate freely in the country, enter the supermarket and retail shops. Lampedusa is exhausted and is ready for striking action: “Tomorrow we meet with local entrepreneurs and declare a strike on the island as this situation is unprecedented. People in danger must be helped, but humanitarian reception needs rules because here it is us who is in danger”.
The same scenes were scene the orning after the port protest, in front of Lampedusa’s town hall, where a group of citizens spontaneously gathered to demand the closure of the hotspot. Lampedusans are known for their great welcoming spirit, but now the safety and health of a community is at stake. Just this morning a migrant was taken to the hospital with several fractures, caused by a fall from over 4 meters in an attempt to escape from the reception centre. “This hotspot must be closed, because we have exceeded all limits”, the islanders loudly protested as the migrant tally on the island reaches 1500 migrants.