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World Lampedusa, symbol of the anger of the Italian extreme right against migrants

17:10  01 august  2020
17:10  01 august  2020 Source:   lepoint.fr

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The episode off the island of Lampedusa symbolises what critics say is the government's lax response to managing migration in a period © Alberto PIZZOLI The interior ministry has said the army would guard reception centres to prevent migrants from escaping mandatory quarantine.

Lampedusa ( Italy ) (AFP) – Out in the Mediterranean, under a baking sun, fisherman Ezio Billeci comes across a boat of vulnerable migrants and calls for help, but for hours the only response he gets from Italian authorities is to “stand by”. The episode off the island of Lampedusa symbolises what critics

  Lampedusa, symbole de la colère de l'extrême droite italienne contre les migrants © Provided by Le Point

Under a blazing sun, Ezio Billeci, an Italian fisherman, crosses a migrant boat at sea and calls for help , but for hours, the only response he gets from the local authorities is: "wait for instructions."

This episode alone sums up the equation off the Italian coast: while NGOs denounce the obstacles they believe to the arrival of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the far right criticizes the government's lax response in a period even more sensitive by the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the new arrivals are from Tunisia , a country struggling with high unemployment and political instability.

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The episode off the island of Lampedusa symbolises what critics say is the government's lax response to managing migration in a period exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic -- accusations led by the anti -immigrant far- right . Most of the recent arrivals hail from Tunisia, a country battling

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But Italy has its own problems - figures released on Friday show it is in recession - sparking resentment against so-called economic migrants.

The rising figure of the Italian far-right Giorgia Meloni, leader of the post-fascist party Fratelli d'Italia (FDI), accuses the government coalition made up of the 5 Star Movement (M5S, anti-system) and the Democratic Party (PD, center- left) for having confined the Italians in the spring and now letting the migrants come and go as they please.

"You have the nerve to chase people on the beach with drones, and now you allow thousands of illegal immigrants to enter Italy (...) and violate quarantine, wandering infected", said she launched in Parliament.

Several episodes of escapes from overcrowded reception centers in recent days have also raised concerns among local populations that migrants who have not respected the quarantine could spread the virus throughout Italy.

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Lampedusa immigrant reception center, officially Reception Center (CDA) of Lampedusa , has been operating since 1998, when the Italian island of Lampedusa became a primary European entry point for immigrants from Africa.

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"No crisis"

For the former mayor of Lampedusa Giusi Nicolini, who won the Unesco prize for peace at the beginning of 2017 for his efforts in favor of migrants, there is " no crisis ".

"They say that we are invaded (by migrants) for political purposes," she said in an interview this week with the daily La Stampa .

A widely circulated photograph of a Tunisian family with straw hats and wheeled suitcases arriving by boat with their pet poodle has fueled the far-right's anti-migrant campaign.

"Illegal immigrants are arriving in droves, even with poodles which have clearly escaped from Libyan camps", ironically Matteo Salvini , the leader of the League (far right), the main Italian party, which should be tried in criminal proceedings for having blocked ships at sea that had rescued migrants last year while he was Minister of the Interior.

According to figures from the Italian government, nearly half of the 11,191 migrants who arrived in Italy this year up to July 24 have left Tunisia and among them nearly 4,000 are Tunisian citizens.

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In search of a better life, thousands of Africans sail for the Italian Island of Lampedusa – the closest European destination to their own countries devastated by revolution and economic crisis. The journey is hard to arrange: it’s costly and travellers are at the mercy of boatmen, often unscrupulous traffickers.

Images showing a boat belonging to the Italian coastguard in the harbour of Lampedusa island in Sicily, after they rescued migrants in the Mediterranean sea.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) more than 2,000 migrants arrived last week alone, more than double the previous week.

The Italian Interior Ministry has acknowledged that the economic crisis caused in North Africa by the Covid-19 pandemic "has fueled an exceptional flow of economic migrants", while the virus has made the management of the numerous arrivals more complex daily.

Luciana Lamorgese, Interior Minister, said Wednesday that the army would guard the reception centers and that two ships of 600 places each would soon be available for migrants in quarantine.

The head of government Giuseppe Conte has remained silent on the recent arrivals, reflecting the tensions within his government majority between the M5S, often closer to the positions of the League and the PD, resolutely opposed.

Italian fishermen who cross migrant boats beyond 12 nautical miles from the Italian coast "are supposed to look elsewhere" and leave them there, even if they are short of gasoline and water, assured Ezio Billeci , the fisherman from the island of Lampedusa, to AFP.

"But I can't do this, I can't. Lives at sea must be saved. Period," he said.

01/08/2020 13:49:31 - Lampedusa (Italy) (AFP) - © 2020 AFP

Italy's Lampedusa new target of far-right anger over migrants .
Out in the Mediterranean, under a baking sun, fisherman Ezio Billeci comes across a boat of vulnerable migrants and calls for help, but for hours the only response he gets from Italian authorities is to "stand by". The episode off the island of Lampedusa symbolises what critics say is the government's lax response to managing migration in a period exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic -- accusations led by the anti-immigrant far-right. Most ofThe episode off the island of Lampedusa symbolises what critics say is the government's lax response to managing migration in a period exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic -- accusations led by the anti-immigrant far-right.

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