German migrant transport NGO Sea-Watch has complained that Italian authorities have taken too long to accept the transfer of migrants to quarantine ships, after dropping off 353 migrants this week.
The NGO was able to begin the transfer to a quarantine vessel located off the coast of the Sicilian capital of Palermo. The quarantine ship, the Allegra, also saw 181 migrants transferred from Porto Empedocle and Lampedusa this week as well.
“The transfer of 353 people from Sea-Watch 4 to the ship where they will carry out a quarantine period off Palermo has begun. It has been almost two weeks since our first aid and the people on board, including women and children, are exhausted,” the NGO said, according to Il Giornale.
Giorgia Linardi, a spokeswoman for Sea-Watch, added: “We insist that it should not take eight to ten days before a ship, which rescues people at sea, to reach a port.”
She said many migrants aboard suffered from seasickness and had sustained other injuries from their time in Libya.
German Migrant Taxi NGO Sends New Ship to the Mediterranean https://t.co/KE3vEsuomp
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 3, 2020
Populist Senator Matteo Salvini, who leads the populist League (Lega) party, reacted to the arrivals, saying the new surge in the past several weeks was an “invasion”.
“The League will denounce the government for aiding illegal immigration if it allows the landing of these 353 illegal immigrants on board from yet another illegal foreign ship,” Salvini said.
Forza Italia Senator Anna Maria Bernini also criticised the increase in NGO activity, saying: “The return to sea at full capacity of the NGOs represents a further magnet for migrants and unfortunately an incentive for the business of human traffickers.”
Estimated 11,000 Migrants Arrived in Italy in a Single Week https://t.co/h083n27Lz3
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 1, 2020
The surge has led to overcrowding in many areas, especially the island of Lampedusa. Dr Cristoforo Pomara, an expert tasked with examining the conditions of migrant reception centres, warned this week that the situation is becoming more dangerous.
“In that hotspot, there is an imminent and concrete risk tosafety, for everyone,” Dr Pomara said. He added: “There are conditions in there that are contrary to all the rules of prevention of spreading diseases. Not just COVID-19. I’m talking about hepatitis, HIV, scabies, tuberculosis.”
“Try to imagine a fire, something that requires a mass escape. There should be 200 people, but there are 1,200 prisoners. What do you think will happen if everyone is pushing for a barred exit?” he asked.
Migrant Who Killed Italian for Being 'White' and 'Happy' Gets 30 Years in Prison https://t.co/pXJSUdFg5P
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 5, 2020