Humanitarian conditions on the Italian island of Lampedusa are deteriorating as a growing number of migrants are reaching its shores. On September 13, more than 5,000 people in more than 100 boats arrived, breaking all previous records.
Lampedusa Mayor Filippo Mannino sounded the alarm on the spike in landings, with in excess of 2,500 people arriving in just a few hours. He said the island “is not able to absorb such a shock”.
According to state radio RAI, at least one five-month-old baby died when a boat capsized close to the island on Wednesday morning. The other 46 passengers, including the mother, were rescued by a nearby Italian Coast Guard vessel.
Italian news agency ANSA reported that there were 6,790 arrivals now in the Lampedusa hotspot, of whom many were families with minors.
The influx of migrants now exceeds the number of inhabitants on the island, which stands at just under 6,500 people, illustrating the scale of the problem and the practical impossibility of processing or handling such a deluge.
📍All’hotspot di #Lampedusa ci sono stamattina oltre 6.000 persone, tante le famiglie con minori. Sono previsti trasferimenti in giornata ma la situazione è difficile per via degli oltre 100 sbarchi registrati nelle ultime ore. pic.twitter.com/1GIpFhHWws
— Croce Rossa Italiana (@crocerossa) September 13, 2023
The Red Cross has implored the Italian Government to relocate the migrants to the mainland as fast as possible. It stated that its own personnel had handled the situation so far but the disembarkation from more than 100 boats was “extremely challenging”.
Medical staff were prioritising care for the most vulnerable individuals but the organisation cautioned that sustaining suitable humanitarian conditions hinged on ensuring that the numbers remained below what it called a critical threshold.
The former Lampedusa mayor Giusi Nicolini said she was unsure whether all arrivals had been counted. She lashed out at the government in Rome, saying it was not responding adequately. Nicolini said the situation was “the clearest sign of the failure of the Meloni government”.
Uno sbarco dietro l’altro, non sono sicura che siano state tutte contate le persone arrivate oggi a #Lampedusa, anche perché intanto continuano ad arrivare. Ora voglio solo ringraziare gestori e ospiti del #CampingLaRoccia, a cui avevo chiesto solo acqua. Hanno dato molto di più pic.twitter.com/PIqnMs5HW7
— GiusiNicolini (@giusi_nicolini) September 12, 2023
Curbing mass migration to Italy was one of the main issues current Prime Minister Georgia Meloni has campaigned on.
According to Italian interior ministry figures, more than 115,000 migrants made the crossing by boat to the country this year, significantly exceeding the 63,000 in the same period last year and almost three times the 41,000 who arrived in 2021.
#Lampedusa: mai così dal 2011 a oggi. 3.000 approdati da ieri, 600 trasferiti su traghetto di linea. 800 su #Diciotti @guardiacostiera Altri in mare. Almeno 8.000 sarebbero pariti dal Nordafrica secondo fonti @Frontex Senza soccorsi a metà strada tutti a Lampedusa #Migranti pic.twitter.com/5VW1IpQ9mz
— angela caponnetto (@AngiKappa) September 12, 2023
Des images que vous ne verrez pas à la TV : les bateaux de clandestins arrivent désormais par dizaines à Lampedusa (Italie). Je n’ai jamais vu ça. La ruée africaine vers l’Europe s’accélère. pic.twitter.com/yaMSDQZTyH
— Damien Rieu (@DamienRieu) September 12, 2023