Italian Island Locals Vote to End Migrant Landings

Rescued migrants from a group of 47 are transfered from their rescued unflatable boat onto

Locals on the Italian island of Lampedusa have participated in a referendum calling for an end to new illegal migrant landings.

The referendum was called two weeks ago and saw the majority of participants, some 988 people, vote to close the migrant “hotspot” centre, with only four people voting to keep the centre’s doors open.

A committee of local citizens released a statement saying: “For 30 years, in the face of the continuous violation of the most essential rights for the population and for immigrants, Lampedusa has been used as a military management platform for migration.”

“All this with the complicity of local administrations and through a moral and economic blackmailing strategy, to the detriment of the local population,” the locals added, according to an Il Giornale report.

The results of the referendum come as another 43 migrants were transported to the island by the migrant transport NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans over the weekend. The Germany-based NGO Sea-Watch has also launched a new reconnaissance plane named Seabird from Lampedusa, as well, to search for migrant boats in the Mediterranean.

“It is not our intention to ignore the seriousness of the migration problem. However, we believe that, starting from the claim of the rights and serenity for the Lampedusians and Lampedusa, we can begin a process of questioning the entire governance of migration,” the Lampedusians said.

As the Wuhan coronavirus lockdown measures in Italy ease, the country has seen a surge in new migrant numbers from both the Mediterranean and the Balkan route over the border with Slovenia.

According to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that was released last month, as many as 650,000 migrants are currently waiting in Libya for a chance to cross the sea into Europe.

Many are also concerned that migrants could bring new cases of coronavirus to Italy as well, as was the case just days ago when it was revealed at least 28 migrants transported to Italy by the NGO Sea-eye were infected with the Chinese disease.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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