Matteo Salvini Laments ‘Collapse’ of Lampedusa from Illegal Migrant Onslaught

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The leader of Italy’s Lega party, Matteo Salvini, said Tuesday that the island of Lampedusa faces a new “collapse” due to the continued arrivals of hundreds of illegal migrants to its shores.

Mr. Salvini was reacting to news of the landing of nearly 500 African migrants on the island — Italy’s southernmost point — in a space of less than 24 hours.

Lampedusa currently receives some 80 percent of all migrants arriving in Italy, leading the island’s mayor, Totò Martello, to lament that Lampedusa has become a “hub” for NGOs shuttling migrants into Italy.

Lampedusa had already received an unusually large number of migrants in January, which is normally a “slow” month because of intemperate weather conditions. In late January, Martello noted that the island’s migrant welcome center, or “hotspot,” was filled to overflowing, with 740 guests in a space designed for 250.

“This island accepts all people in difficulty but it is not fair to Lampedusans that migrants rescued by NGOs are also disembarked here,” he declared. “It means irreversibly penalizing Lampedusa, an island that received 80 percent of landings in Italy.”


Migrants from Tunisia and Lybia are examined as they arrive onboard of an Italian Guardia Costiera (Coast Guard) boat in the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 1, 2020. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Martello blames interior minister Luciana Lamorgese for not doing more to defend her own people and for unfairly placing the brunt of the burden on Lampedusa.

Senator Anna Maria Bernini of the Forza Italia party also weighed in on the situation, insisting that given the record number of landings “the government can no longer ignore an endless emergency.”

Lampedusa has indeed been a hub of NGOs “for some time now,” she stated, “just as for years Italy has been taking responsibility for receiving migrants without the European Union lifting a finger.”

Migrants from Tunisia disembark from a 'Guardia di Finanza' patrol boat, on the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Migrants from Tunisia disembark from a ‘Guardia di Finanza’ patrol boat, on the Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on August 1, 2020. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Those who arrive and do not have the right to stay “must be repatriated as required by EU rules,” she added.

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Fratelli d’Italia party, called for Lamorgese’s removal following the most recent arrivals.

“Daily landings: it is now an illegal immigration emergency,” she said. “Nothing can change with Minister Lamorgese at the Viminale [Interior Ministry]. She must resign as soon as possible.”


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