Below is a summary of the recent arrivals on Lampedusa and other ports in Italian territory. The various boatloads of cultural enrichment added up to 640 new arrivals, bringing the year-to-date total to just under 49,000. As you will see, another 111 migrants were rescued on Sunday by a Spanish warship, but no country has agreed to take them, and their final destination is yet to be determined.
First, from last Sunday, 299 sub-Saharans were rescued and brought to Lampedusa:
Coast Guard Rescue 299 Migrants Off Lampedusa Waters
(AGI) Lampedusa — The Italian Coast Guard rescued a migrant boat, escorting it to the island of Lampedusa. The vessel’s engine had broken down and a fire was about to break out onboard. Coast Guard personnel extinguished the fire, restarted the engine and proceeded to guide the boat towards the island.
Officials report 299 Sub-Saharan African migrants onboard, including 13 women and 1 child.
Also on Sunday, fifteen refugees were rescued off the coast of Sardinia and brought to Cagliari:
Fifteen Immigrants Rescued Off Sant’Antioco Coast
(AGI) Cagliari — As of tonight, the Elmas refugee camp has resumed activity to host 15 north African immigrants. The camp is in the military airport near Cagliari. The immigrants, probably Tunisians, were intercepted by the Finance Police patrol unit off the south western coast of Sardinia. They were taken ashore, on the island of Sant’Antioco, and were then transferred to the controversial temporary shelter camp, from which a group of Tunisians to be repatriated escaped last week.
On Monday, forty enrichers were intercepted and brought to Crotone, which is approximately on the ball of the foot in the Italian boot:
Barge Carrying 40 People Intercepted
(AGI) Catanzaro — A barge carrying 40 non-EU citizens has been intercepted by two Financial Police motor boats. The operation took place between Catanzaro Lido and Sellia Marina. The vessel, which was 16 metres long and had Arab writing on the sides, was then escorted to the port of Crotone.
The final group of migrants landed on Lampedusa yesterday. Their country of origin was not specified:
Hundreds of Migrants Arrive by Boat Escorted by Police
Rome, 13 July (AKI) — A boat carrying 286 migrants landed on the small southern Italian island of Lampedusa late Tuesday night as people continue to set sail from North Africa amid civil war in Libya and popular uprisings in other parts of the Arab world.
The new arrivals were intercepted by Italian police and escorted to the Lampedusa port where migrants are normally registered before being granted political asylum, returned home or transferred to detention centres on the Italy’s mainland or Sicily.
Since the unrest that has hit North Africa this year, over 41,000 migrants have reached Lampedusa, whose sole detention centre can hold a maximum of 850 people.
On Sunday a group of 111 culture-enrichers was rescued from a disabled boat in international waters by a Spanish warship that was taking part in the NATO operation against Libya. Although the migrants were picked up far outside Maltese territorial waters, for some reason the Spaniards tried to take them to Malta. The Maltese refused to accept them, and it’s a sure bet the Italians will resist taking them, too.
Migrants’ Rescue: Malta Awaits NATO’s Explanation
Nato has not yet responded to Malta’s questions about a rescue operation of immigrants by a Spanish warship in international waters last Sunday.
Home Affairs Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici told journalists this evening that Malta awaited explanations about the rescue of 111 migrants found in a drifting boat outside Malta’s search and rescue area on Sunday morning.
The boat’s engine had failed and although a tug boat’s crew tried to render assistance, they were unable to repair the engine.
Malta’s rescue coordination centre issued a notice of ships in distress and assets on site were obliged to assist.
The migrants then requested rescue and were picked up by a Spanish destroyer, the Almirante Juan de Borbón, 78 nautical miles away from Tunisia, 88 nautical miles from Lampedusa and 141 nautical miles from Malta.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said that the Spanish warship, which is under Nato command, headed to Malta. However, Malta was only informed of this decision 18 hours after the rescue and when the Spanish ship was just 40 nautical miles from the island.
Malta then asked the Nato command in Naples why the immigrants were being brought here and whether similar requests for disembarkation were submitted to Tunisia and Italy. Dr Mifsud Bonnici said Malta had not received replies to its questions.
So far the Spanish destroyer has been refused permission to come to Malta. It is currently in international waters.
Army commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb said the warship had medical facilities on board so the migrants were safe on a well-equipped ship.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said he discussed the issue with his Spanish counterpart and told him that the ship’s “unilateral decision was strange”. Spain is saying that the ship is under Nato’s command.
There has been no communication with Italy.
The minister insisted this was not a stand off with Spain or Italy but Malta, as a sovereign state demanded it be respected.
“The problem is not Malta’s, it is Nato’s.”
Malta was ready to accept humanitarian cases if their medical condition could not be covered by the medical facilities on board.
A 10-month-old baby who needed medical attention was flown to Malta from the Spanish destroyer yesterday and was followed today by the medical evacuation of a young man and a woman. The woman is pregnant.
Earlier, media reports quoted a Nato spokesman saying that following Sunday’s rescue the Ghanaian, Tunisian and Libyan migrants were on Monday transferred onto the warship in accordance with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) protocol.
The reports also claimed the warship proceeded to Lampedusa but the Italian authorities refused it entry and directed the vessel to Malta.
Dr Mifsud Bonnici said Malta had no information that Italy had refused the disembarkation of the migrants.
As mentioned above, the holding facilities on Lampedusa have a capacity of only 850, so these have to be emptied periodically and their inhabitants relocated to Sicily or the Italian mainland. On Monday more than 1,100 migrants were shipped off to an unidentified location further north:
Boat Sets Sail From Lampedusa With 1,121 Migrants on Board
Lampedusa, 11 July (AKI) – A ship set sail from Lampedusa on Monday with 1,121 illegal immigrants on board who landed on the tiny southern Italian island over the weekend.
Earlier on Monday, police arrested ten migrants suspected of people trafficking and of fomenting riots that broke out on Friday inside a holding centre in Pozzallo, on the southern Sicilian cost.
The European Union’s border protection agency Frontex said in June that Italy has replaced Greece as the chief route for illegal migration to Europe.
The surge in illegal migration to Europe from North Africa has sparked rows between EU states, with Rome arguing that other EU member states must share the burden of the influx of illegal immigrants to the bloc.
Our final report is a follow-up on earlier stories about the environmental damage to Lampedusa caused by the flood of “Camp of the Saints” arrivals. This article reports on the recovery and recycling of lead batteries from bottom of the harbor at Lampedusa, presumably thrown overboard or sunken along with scuttled boats:
Two Tons of Lead Batteries Recovered From Lampedusa Seabed
(AGI) Agrigento — About 1.2 tons of lead batteries, 300 litres of sulphuric acid and 100 kilos of plastic from vessels transporting immigrants have been recovered from Lampedusa port’s seabed by experts from the Coast Guard in cooperation with the National Consortium for Collection and Recycling. This completed the recovery of 70 lead batteries in the Molo Madonnina area and those surrounding the port. In an operation supervised by the Harbour Master in cooperation with the Lampedusa Island Natural Reserve Organization, these accumulators from vessels carrying migrants and also from private ones were all collected, and will now be professionally recycled by staff from Palermo-based Brugnano s.r.L. appointed by Cobat for operations in Sicily. Legambiente and Marevivo also took part in this operation .
When the EU bean-counters total up the costs of taking in all those Mediterranean refugees, do they factor in ancillary expenses like these? Someday I’d like to see a fully itemized accounting…
For previous posts about the Mediterranean refugee crisis, see The Camp of the Saints Archive.
Hat tips: AC and C. Cantoni.