As a result of the violent disturbances on Lampedusa over the past week and a fire that damaged buildings at the island’s migrant reception centre, Italian officials have responded with drastic measures. Lampedusa has been declared an unsafe port and newly intercepted or rescued migrants will not be brought to Lampedusa, but will instead be taken to Sicily.
Hundreds of Tunisians have continued to arrive on Lampedusa in recent weeks and severe overcrowding has again resulted. The overcrowding culminated in the past week’s protests by the Tunisians. Most of the 1200+ Tunisian migrants who were on Lampedusa have been moved from the island by ship or military planes. Approximately 700 Tunisian migrants have been held for the past three days on board passenger ships in the Palermo harbour. News reports say that three ships being used to detain the migrants are the Moby Vincent, Moby Fantasy, and Audacia. AIS ship tracking information shows that as of early Sunday morning, 25 September, the Moby Vincent and Audacia are still in the harbour and that the Moby Fantasy left Palermo during the night of the 24th and is sailing towards Sardinia. It is unclear whether the Moby Fantasy is carrying migrants or not.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni was quoted on Saturday as saying that the migrants now in Palermo will all be repatriated within a few days. (“Roberto Maroni ha assicurato che gli immigrati che sono stati prelevati da Lampedusa e che si trovano attualmente a Palermo ‘saranno tutti rimpatriati nel giro di pochi giorni’”.) Maroni said that 600 Tunisians were repatriated last week and that ten repatriation flights were scheduled for the coming week.
Click here for the Euro-Police blog post on the situation.