UNHCR, IOM, and Save the Children issued a joint statement expressing concern that Italy’s decision to declare Lampedusa an unsafe port which can no longer receive persons rescued at sea risks “undermin[ing] the entire rescue at sea system for migrants and asylum seekers and at the same time could make rescue operations much more hazardous and complex.”
“Since it is no longer possible to dock in Lampedusa, the ability of the Coast Guard and the “Guardia di Finanza” to carry out rescue at sea will be compromised by the distance they will have to travel to reach the next safe port, e.g Porto Empedocle, 120 nautical miles away. This would have severe implications on rescue operations when the weather is bad, or when it involves transporting people in need of urgent medical assistance, minors and other vulnerable individuals.
Therefore, the partner organizations of the Praesidium Project hope that the Lampedusa centre will be re-established as soon as possible to ensure adequate reception and swift transit for migrants who should be hosted in the centre only for a minimum period of time to allow for assistance and identification before being transferred to appropriate facilities elsewhere in Italy.
Whilst the three partner organizations understand the pressure the island has been under in recent times and the limited capacity of the reception and rescue centre, it is important that Lampedusa remains a safe harbour in order to save lives. …”
Click here (EN) or here (IT) for joint statement.
Save the Children released a press statement yesterday describing the conditions for more than 250 unaccompanied migrant children on Lampedusa and calling for their immediate transfer from the island. Excerpts:
“’The structure that has been allocated [to the children on Lampedusa] is totally inadequate and the conditions on an hourly basis are becoming more critical from the point of view of hygiene and [other conditions]’ said Raffaella Milano, Italy-Programs Manager, Save the Children Europe. Since the beginning of the increased arrivals of migrants from Tunisia – since February 10 – more than 530 children, the vast majority of them unaccompanied, have arrived in Lampedusa. Of these, 283 have been placed in communities to accommodate the children in Sicily. ‘More than 250 unaccompanied minors are still remaining in Lampedusa and many have been living many days in conditions that do not guarantee minimum standards of reception.’ … Save the Children calls for the transfer of the children and setting up temporary structures … if necessary, where the children may stay until being placed within the community. … This delay is not justifiable.”
For more information:
Press Office Save the Children Italy,
Click here for link to statement.
Also click here for 22 March UNHCR urgent call for action by the Italian authorities to alleviate overcrowding on Lampedusa.