Shout of alarm from Lampedusa: “Don’t disembark the Alan Kurdi here”
Lampedusa merchants have written a letter to the President of the Sicily Region, Nello Musumeci: “We are not in condition to receive migrants in the middle of the coronavirus emergency.”
by Mauro Indelicato
April 11, 2020
At Lampedusa, enough is enough: After the news of a migrant testing positive for the coronavirus inside the “hotspot” of Pozzallo, the residents of the largest of the Pelagie (Islands of Italy) have continued to ask, with even more insistence, that the landing of humanitarian barges or ships on the island not be allowed.
In the last few hours, in particular, it has been the merchants of Lampedusa who put their impatience in black and white in a detailed letter to the President of the Region of Sicily, Nello Musumeci. “We are a group of Lampedusa merchants who are writing to you,” the message reads, addressed to the head of the regional council. “But more than merchants, we are parents, people who for some thirty years have passively suffered the flows of migrants who have landed on our small island. We have received them, refreshed them and always taken care of them.”
“Today,” continues the letter, “we see an NGO ship that wants to dock at Lampedusa. On board there are more than 100 migrants, and from what we know, there are thought to be some of them who are sick.” The reference is to the Alan Kurdi, the ship of the German NGO Sea Eye, which, for some days has been sailing the central Mediterranean and has recovered in two separate rescue missions a total of 150 persons.
The fear of the Lampedusa merchants is that now the German ship could land on the island. “Now, Mr. President,” continues the letter, “it is a given that none of us would not want to help these human beings, but we are living a situation at the limit. The coronavirus is an imminent danger. At Lampedusa, we cannot receive anybody, especially people arriving from non-EU countries where the pandemic has arrived.”
The principal fear consists of the knowledge that, in these parts, in case of an epidemic, it would be very difficult to prevent an emergency: adequate infrastructure is lacking; the geographic isolation translates into a very large distance to cover to transport those who are gravely ill. And, in fact, in the letter addressed to Musumeci, the merchants pointed out this aspect specifically: “The conditions are not present, and there could be mass death for all of us if even one of them was positive for the coronavirus,” the text of the message, released in the last hours, reads. “In the reception center there are already migrants in quarantine. We beg you, Mr. President, to help us. To land these people somewhere else in places where it will be possible to give them health and humanitarian assistance. In this phase, Lampedusa is not in a condition to be able to serve them as it always has.”
Therefore very strong worries, which testify to the impatience in a potentially explosive situation: The sea is calm now, the weather conditions ideal for the crossing, and Lampedusa could witness a serious increase in landings, with all the related consequences in times of the coronavirus.
“We take the occasion,” the merchants close, “dear President, also to express our concern about that which concerns our work. Lampedusa is an island that lives on tourism, and this year, the risk that the summer season could be strongly compromised or even shut down is stronger. We hope that the region can also take this into account and meet our needs. Thank you, President Musumeci for that that which you will certainly do for us, Sicilians of Lampedusa.”