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While Lampedusa is struggling with migrants, German women march for open borders. Photo: Mika Baumeister
Rome

EU forces Italy to allow migrants as crisis on Lampedusa brews

After having reached a record in migrant landings (19 194) on the Italian coasts from the beginning of the year to today, the EU warned that borders must be kept open.

Published: September 1, 2020, 10:24 am

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    In the same period last year there were 5 135 landings, but Rome also continues to deny the evidence and argues that “the migratory emergency does not exist”. The entire southern Italy is being tormented by the arrival of immigrants and the first citizen of Lampedusa, Totò Martello called for the closure of the reception center due to the spread of the Coronavirus, reported the Italian daily Il Giornale.

    The governor of Sicily, for his part, has drawn attention to the health emergency on the island. But Rome said the ports must remain wide open and migrants continue to arrive. In the last 48 hours alone, more than a thousand migrants landed in Sicily. The reception center in Lampedusa was only designed for a hundred places.

    While the mayor and the governor of Sicily threaten closure, the European Union issued a warning to allow the unprecedented influx. Spokesman of the European Commission for Migration Adalbert Jahnz said: “As regards what is happening on the island of Lampedusa, we are following the situation closely and keeping in touch with the Italian authorities” but “every action taken must comply with international law and the right of asylum”.

    During the online press briefing in Brussels, the Commission’s spokesperson reminded Italy that it cannot do as it pleases, because the EU “works closely with the Italian authorities on migration issues”.

    Meanwhile British street artist Banksy’s migrant rescue ship got into difficulty and had to be helped by an Italian coastguard vessel. The mysterious artist has financed a disused vessel to “hunt for migrants” in the Mediterranean. It bears the name of a French anarchist, has a German feminist captain and a British shipowner: but the ports of landing remain Italian.

    It has already “saved” 400 migrants on the hot smugglers’ routes thanks to Pia Klemp at the helm of the Louise Michel explaining to The Guardian how the “rescue of migrants” is in reality “an anti-fascist fight”. Klemp said: “I don’t see sea rescue as a humanitarian action, but as part of an anti-fascist fight.”

    Banksy however, is a British citizen until proven otherwise. So it would make more sense to ferry migrants to ports under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, any British overseas territory or any member state of the Commonwealth.

    Due to the continued influx of asylum seekers across the Mediterranean, the Italian government has had to provide three more quarantine ships. All and all, five quarantine ships have been provided, according to Italian outlet ANSA.

    The number of migrants on the German rescue ship Sea-Watch4  meanwhile continues to rise. There are now around 350 people on board, said Sea-Watch. Previously, the Louise Michel had handed migrants over to Sea-Watch4.

    The spokeswoman for Sea-Watch4 , which is financed by donations from the Evangelical Church in Germany, told the Evangelical Press Service that the crew and migrants on board were allegedly exhausted. “Now we’re stranded at sea. We are being punished for filling the void that the EU governments have left on the deadliest sea border in the world.”

    On Twitter, the organisation announced that it was looking for a “safe haven” for “our guests”.

    At the end of May, protesting residents of Lampedusa had already called for the closure of the initial migrant reception facility . “It is absurd that migrants manage to break into the port unnoticed despite several radars and numerous patrol boats,” said a spokesman for the protest group at the time. While the tourists stayed away because of the Coronavirus, the asylum seekers continued to arrive.

    There are financial reasons for at least the Lutheran Church (Evangelische Kirche in DeutschlandEKD) to participate in the smuggling of people from Africa to Western Europe.

    A study published by the University of Freiburg revealed that the number of people belonging to Germany’s two main churches will drop by half by 2060.

    Thus, new sources of income must be found in good time to replace the financial dependence on church taxes and the Church has been looking for business areas that match its brand image of being associated with “charity”. In this respect, the human smuggling business is almost self-evident: You can dress up the story about alleged “refugees” in a Christian way and receive a state bounty for board and lodging for every African who is brought in, thanks to the exploitation of the many volunteers working at low or no cost.

    Almost exclusively young men are brought into the EU. This clear preference for male immigrants is not surprising when you bear in mind that especially the Lutheran Church in Germany today is de facto a women’s church: all lay work is in the hands of women, women dominate the hierarchies of the administration, women make up the majority of the few remaining Protestant churchgoers and are also omnipresent on the pulpit.

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    • Rentia Diedericks

      The president of the Sicily Region has not changed his position: the migrant hotspots and reception centers must be closed to be adapted to anti-Coronavirus regulations. Why must migrants be exempt from these but Italians (and other Europeans) face legal action if they don’t comply.

      Conte is convinced that, given the formation of the Tunisian government, the conditions are in place for intensifying repatriation: ” We are confident that we will strengthen the repatriation program by also using more flexible systems, including maritime transport ” he told a crisis meeting.

      Italian Ministers Di Maio and Lamorgese were in Tunisia this week with European Commissioners Johansson and Várhelyi to offer them “solutions” – which means money. But most migrants are leaving from Libya.

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