At least 30 Migrants Escape Italian Reception Centre After Setting Fire

Migrants from a migrant housing centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa, are watched by a security official on May 14, 2021, as they prepare to board the ship 'Cossyra', bound for the Sicilian town of Porto Empedocle. - Migration has returned to the top of the political agenda in …

At least 30 migrants escaped an Italian reception centre in Pozzallo after some of them allegedly set fire to mattresses in protest.

The fire started on Sunday afternoon in the Sicilian town and saw at least 30 of the 80 or so migrants at the facility use the chaos of the blaze to escape the facility.

 Il Giornale reported that local media suggested the migrants had staged an uprising before nearly half of them managed to escape, a theory shared by Senator Matteo Salvini, leader of the populist League.

Mr Salvini posted a video of the fire on Facebook and said: “Some press sources said there was an uprising among the illegal immigrants, who allegedly set fire to protest… the immigrants set fire to the mattresses, and 30 managed to escape. Crazy stuff.”

By the evening, police had tracked down all 30 escaped migrants.

The incident is not the first time migrants have set fires in Italian reception facilities in recent months. In September, migrants being accommodated in a hotel in the Sicilian town of Valderice also set fire to mattresses and other furniture.

During the fires, two Tunisian migrants attempted to jump out of windows to escape but suffered serious injuries and had to be hospitalised.

It is not just in Italy where migrants are setting fire to their accommodations. Last month, four Afghans were jailed for arson and endangering life for their part in burning down Europe’s largest migrant camp, Moria, on the Greek island of Lesbos last year, which left 13,000 people without shelter. Two other Afghan accomplices, both juveniles, had been jailed in March for arson.

In recent weeks, Italy has seen a surge of illegal migrant arrivals, primarily on the islands of Lampedusa and Sicily.

Lampedusa saw non-stop migrant arrivals for several days, with hundreds arriving on nearly two-dozen boats, overcrowding the hotspot reception centre, which is only built to accommodate 250 migrants at one time.

The central Mediterranean migrant route, which sees migrants departing from Libya and Tunisia and attempting to enter either Italy or Malta, has also seen the most drownings of any sea route to the European Union in the first six months of this year.

A total of 741 people had drowned on the central Mediterranean route, with 1,146 people drowning trying to get to the European Union on all sea routes.

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


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