Published on June 27, 2020 in News + Media

On early June 25, 204 migrants reached Lampedusa, in three different disembarkations. Asylum seekers mainly come from Tunisia and arrived in Italy on 7 boats. 

The first operation occurred during the night between June 24 and June 25, when 95 migrants arrived in Lampedusa. A few hours later, the Italian island was reached by 16 more migrants and then 22 asylum seekers, bringing the total number to 204. Migrants were then transferred to the Imbriacola hotspot, waiting to be transferred in several other facilities to be quarantined, in line with measures adopted due to the coronavirus emergency. 

The last disembarkations occurred between SatJune 20 and SunJune 21, when 275 migrants reached Italian shores. The first operation occurred in Crotone, Calabria, where 43 asylum seekers disembarked on Sat night, after reaching Italian shores on a sailing shipAmong them, 14 minors and 7 women. In the meanwhile, a group of 21 migrants, from Iraq and Iran, disembarked in Santa Maria di Leuca, Apulia, after being spotted by the local Port Authority. Finally, on June 21, 211 migrants who were on board the German ONG vessel “Sea Watch” were granted Italian authorities’ assistance in their transfer on the “Moby Zaza” quarantine shipwhere they will remain for the next 14 days. On June 24, ANSA revealed that out of 209 migrants who were on the German ONG vessel “Sea Watch” and then quarantined on the Italian “Moby Zaza” quarantine ship, 28 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The transfer operation to the Moby Zaza ship occurred in compliance with the measures adopted due to the coronavirus emergency. 

More in the detail, on Apr 1, the Italian Ministry of Interior issued an official statement in which it invited hosting centers to ensure that all migrants, including those who can’t stay longer in the facilities, remain in the assigned structures, to contain the spread of the virus.  Also, the Ministry recalled the necessary procedures that have to be followed when migrants arrive. More in the detail, after disembarking, asylum seekers need to be screened by the health staff who must verify the eventual infection by the novel coronavirus. Then, they also have to be quarantined for 14 days, after which can eventually be transferred to another facility. Also, the Ministry recalled that volunteers and staff at the facilities have to brief migrants on the risks emerging from the spread of the novel coronavirus and how to prevent the contagion.       

Then, on Apr 9, the Italian ministers of Transports, Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Health, decided to close Italian ports to migrants due to the coronavirus emergency. In the new document, the four ministers declared that due to the coronavirus emergency, Italian ports do not guarantee the Place of Safety requirements, as defined in the Hamburg International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue. Thus, Italian ports will remain closed for the entire duration of the emergency in the country, until July 31st. However, despite the Italian government adopted the decree that closed ports to refugees’ vessels, disembarkations, according to the mayor of Lampedusa, Totò Martello, are currently ongoing on the island.       

Also, concerning migration, during a parliamentary inquiry, on May 28, the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Marina Sereni, accused Malta of refusing to rescue migrants. More in the detail, Sereni Sereni accused Malta of continuing to implement an already emerged practice, namely its refusal to adhere to the provisions contained in international conventions concerning the Safe and Rescue of Migrants, due to a restrictive interpretation of their provisions. More in the detail, Malta has a SAR area that is disproportionate to its capabilities, which also merges with the Italian one both in the North and in the West. Also, Malta is the only signatory State of the Hamburg SAR convention of 1979 that has not introduced yet the 2004 amendments that made it mandatory for States to collaborate in finding a safe port to disembarkations. Thus, Malta regards itself as obliged to ensure its cooperation in saving migrants while at sea, but for what concerns disembarkations it insists that they need to take place in the nearest ones. In this climate, authorities in Valletta refrain to rescue migrants near its coasts. Also, boats that need to be assisted, according to the Maltese authorities, are only the ones that risk sinking and submitted an explicit SAR request.      

This article was firstly published on June 27, 2020 

Jasmine Ceremigna