Italian island overwhelmed by SEVEN THOUSAND migrants in just 48 hours - more arrivals than its entire population

Migrants wait near the port to be transferred to the mainland, on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy

The mayor is pleading for international help

Reuters
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop


Published: 14/09/2023

- 17:43

Updated: 15/09/2023

- 10:48

Lampedusa's population is just over 6,000

An Italian island has been overwhelmed by thousands of migrants who have arrived to its shores in the past two days.

Lampedusa, a small island in the Mediterranean, has been swarmed by asylum seekers, with the number of those arriving outnumbering its entire population.


"In the past 48 hours, around 7,000 people have arrived in Lampedusa, which has always welcomed them with open arms," Mayor Filippo Mannino told Italy's RTL 102.5 radio.

Lampedusa’s population stands at approximately 6,000.

Migrants waiting outside the local reception centre

The local reception centre, which was only built to house around 400 people, has been flooded with migrants

Reuters

"However, we have now reached a point of no return and the island is in crisis," the mayor said.

"Europe and the Italian state must step in immediately with a rapid support operation and swift transfer of people."

Today (14 September), 387 migrants stepped onto the island's shore, Italian news agency Agi reported.

It is believed that they sailed from the Tunisian port of Sfax.

The local reception centre, which was only built to house around 400 people, has been flooded with migrants.

Men, women, and children have all been forced to sleep on makeshift beds as they wait for more information.

Tensions broke out yesterday (13 September) over food that was being handed out by the Red Cross.

Police were forced to get involved and some migrants jumped the fence to escape the overcrowded facility.

A right-wing government, led by Giorgia Meloni, promised to crack down on immigration in Lampedusa, when they came to power last October.

Meloni said that some legal migration could benefit Europe’s economy but would not be a solution to the continent’s demographic crisis, he said at a conference in Budapest.

Officials are organising transfers to Sicily, where there are bigger processing facilities.

5,000 people are expected to be transferred to Sicily by the end of today.

Migrants jumping the fence

Some migrants jumped the fence to escape the overcrowded facility

Reuters

Naby Bangoura, from Guinea, a migrant who arrived by boat from Tunisia: "Italy is a good place, we have been well received and given things to eat."

He said he travelled two days by a boat carrying around 35 people, to get to the tiny Italian island.

Most asylum seekers are picked up by the coastguard when they enter Lampedusa’s waters. They are then brought to port.

Over 120,000 migrants have arrived in Italy in 2023 so far.

Meanwhile in the UK, over 3,000 migrants crossed the border in just 11 days.

The recent run of good weather resulted in the biggest single-day figure for the year so far, when 872 crossed in 15 small boats on Saturday 2nd September.

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