Over the last four days a number of new boatloads of cultural enrichment have disembarked on Lampedusa and other ports in Italy — 312 on Wednesday, 33 on Thursday, 111 yesterday, and 100 today. Before we get down to the details, here’s an update concerning the total number of arrivals in Italy this year, as mentioned in the Italian media.
On Tuesday, in “Whose Numbers?”, I pointed out that the Italian news services were using a year-to-date figure of 40,000, which was months out of date. I said, “It’s time to revise your stock figure, guys.”
The following day, ANSA included this paragraph in an article about the refugees on Lampedusa:
More than 50,000 undocumented migrants have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since the beginning of the year, many of them fleeing political upheaval in Tunisia and military conflict in Libya. [emphasis added]
And a couple of days later AKI had this to say:
A total of 2,500 migrants reached Lampedusa last weekend and over 50,000 have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since January amid upheaval in Tunisia and Libya, making Italy the number-one gateway for illegal immigration to Europe. [emphasis added]
I don’t know if this is merely a coincidence, or whether the Italians took my admonition to heart. In any case, I commend them for updating the stock figure they use in articles about the crisis.
A brief word is in order concerning the three excellent Italian news services that Gates of Vienna relies on for news about the Mediterranean refugee crisis:
- AGI (Agenzia Giornalistica Italia) covers mostly Italian news.
- ANSA (Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata) also focuses mainly on Italian news, but its subsidiary ANSAmed ranges more widely, covering Southern Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East.
- AKI (ADNKronos International, Agenzia Di Notizie/Kronos) covers Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East.
These three news agencies provide the most thorough, up-to-the-minute news about the Mediterranean area. There’s no slant, no agenda — just extensive coverage of important events. Thanks to our Italian tipsters, any breaking story about the area arrives in our email almost instantaneously. AGI, ANSA, and AKI watch the wire services and also do their own reporting, translating as much as they can into English. If it weren’t for their work, much of the information about the “Camp of the Saints” crisis would have gone unreported.
Because I receive all the news stories about migrant arrivals in Italy (usually with multiple corroborations), I am able to track the numbers of refugees and keep a reasonably accurate running total.
So let’s hear it for the Italians!
As mentioned above, the last four days’ worth of enrichment added some 556 refugees to the total. The year-to-date number of arrivals is heading for 54,000, causing the Cultural Enrichment Thermometer to tick upwards again.
The articles about the latest arrivals mention that last week’s flood of refugees overloaded the holding facilities at Lampedusa, so that the latest boatloads are being packed in while the authorities are still trying to ship the earlier batches to the mainland.
First, a brief mention of 312 new arrivals, from Wednesday’s ANSAmed:
More Arrivals on Lampedusa, 2,600 in 4 Days
(ANSAmed) — Lampedusa (Agrigento), August 17 — Another large boat carrying 312 refugees who had left from Libya - including 59 women and 4 children - landed on Lampedusa over the night.
The boat was brought in from a few miles off the coast by a Financial Police patrol boat. Over the past four days about 2,600 migrants have landed on the island. In the reception centre of Imbriacola, where non-European migrants are held while waiting to be transferred to other facilities, there are currently about 2,000 people.
A later ANSA article gives more details, including the logistics of transferring hundreds of refugees to a reception center in Taranto, on the mainland:
Hundreds of Migrants Moved From Lampedusa as More Arrive
More than 1,100 transferred to Sicily and mainland
(ANSA) — Lampedusa, August 17 — A boat carrying 312 migrants from Libya landed overnight on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
Police rescued the migrants, most of whom were believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa and included 59 women and four children, and helped them into shore.
The boatload of refugees was the latest in a wave of 2,600 new arrivals who have landed on the island since the weekend.
Meanwhile operations were underway in the city of Taranto in the southern region of Puglia to transfer hundreds of migrants.
More than 600 migrants were transferred on the boat, Moby Fantasy, from Lampedusa to the Manduria migrant reception centre in Taranto, while another 200 passengers were moved to the Campochiaro reception centre in Campobasso in the region of Molise.
The boat left Lampedusa three days ago and 334 of the migrants were taken to a migrant centre in the eastern Sicilian city of Catania before the boat continued to the mainland.
Another 102 migrants, from Nigeria, Somalia and several other African countries, on Wednesday were transferred from Lampedusa to the Sardinian port of Cagliari.
More than 50,000 undocumented migrants have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since the beginning of the year, many of them fleeing political upheaval in Tunisia and military conflict in Libya.
The reception facilities on Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than to Sicily, have been overwhelmed by the influx and the Italian government has had to ship migrants out after protests.
Arrivals on Sicily or the mainland are rare; most boat people land at Lampedusa, Pantelleria, or Malta. However, on Thursday a few immigrants landed near Marsala, on the western tip of Sicily:
Italy: Immigrants Land Off Marsala Coast
(AGI) Trapani — Dozens of immigrants have landed in Petrosino, near Marsala in the province of Trapani. The exact number is not yet known but the police are trying to track them down in the area between Lido Torrazza and Via Triglia Scaletta and between the 115 Route and the beach. Some immigrants have been taken to hospital suffering from hypothermia and dehydration .
The same day another group landed on Pantelleria:
Italy: Ten Land in Pantelleria
(AGI) Palermo — Ten Tunisians, all male, landed last night in Pantelleria after crossing the Sicily Channel on board of a small boat. They were led to the reception centre, inside an old army barracks. Last Tuesday, about ninety non-EC immigrants burned mattresses as a protest, starting a fire. This morning, 65 unaccompanied minors were moved from Lampedusa to Porto Empedocle (Agrigento) on board of a Siremar ferry .
111 more showed up on Lampedusa on Friday:
450 Illegal Immigrants Land on Southern Lampedusa Island as Migrant Influx Continues
Lampedusa, 19 August (AKI) — Italian coast guard rescued 111 immigrants from a people smuggling boat 20 nautical miles off the coast of the southern island of Lampedusa Friday believed to have set sail from Tunisia.
A Tunisian fishing boat notified the coast guard after spotting the migrant boat.
Lampedusa’s single reception centre designed to hold a maximum of 850 people was seriously overcrowded on Thursday with some 1,570 migrants being accommodated there following a wave of landings on the island over the past week.
Over 1,000 migrants were due to be transferred from Lampedusa to other Italian migrant reception centres to ease the overcrowding, which earlier this early this year drew international criticism after migrants were forced to sleep rough on the island in unsanitary makeshift encampments.
A total of 456 migrants who landed in Lampedusa in the past few days were transferred by boat to the northern port of Genoa on Friday and were being bussed to other towns in the country’s’ north.
A total of 2,500 migrants reached Lampedusa last weekend and over 50,000 have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since January amid upheaval in Tunisia and Libya, making Italy the number-one gateway for illegal immigration to Europe.
Another report of the same incident, from ANSA:
Migrants Rescued Near Lampedusa as Others Transferred
More than 1,000 moved to mainland centres
(ANSA) — Lampedusa, August 19 — Italian Coast Guard officials on Friday rescued 111 immigrants 20 nautical miles off the coast of the southern island of Lampedusa.
The boat was spotted near the tiny island of Lampione by the crew of a Tunisian fishing boat who notified the Coast Guard.
The migrants are believed to have departed from the Tunisian coast to cross the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile more than 1,000 migrants were being transferred by ship from Lampedusa to other Italian migrant reception centres.
A total of 456 migrants who landed in Lampedusa in the past few days were transferred by boat to the northern port of Genoa on Friday.
Police and port officials moved the migrants onto buses that were expected to take them to other towns in the country’s north.
On Thursday around 1,570 migrants were at the Lampedusa centre after several boat arrivals swelled numbers in the past week. More than 50,000 undocumented migrants have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since January, as many of them fled political upheaval in Tunisia and military conflict in Libya.
The reception facilities on Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than to Sicily, have been overwhelmed by the influx and the Italian government this week has shipped migrants to centres in Sicily, Sardinia and Puglia.
Finally, a hundred more came in earlier today:
Boat With 100 Migrants on Board Rescued Off Lampedusa
(AGI) Palermo — A boat carrying 100 migrants was rescued this morning by the Coast Guard, 20 miles off Lampedusa. The boat, rescued near the small island of Lampione, was detected upon an alert sent by Tunisian authorities, who in turn had been notified by a Tunisian fishermen’s boat. There are 2 women among the refugees, suffering from a strong dehydration condition. The refugees were transferred on the patrol vessel and taken to Lampedusa. This is the first landing in the past two days.
Lampedusa was relatively calm for almost two months, but for some reason the flood has resumed. The next few weeks may prove interesting.
Hat tips: C. Cantoni and Insubria.
For previous posts about the Mediterranean refugee crisis, see The Camp of the Saints Archive.