Italy relocates refugees after Lampedusa centre overwhelmed | Refugees News

The Navy began transferring the first of 600 migrants and refugees from Lampedusa amid a sharp increase in new arrivals.

The Italian navy has begun removing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers from the Sicilian island of Lampedusa after its refugee identification center was overwhelmed with new arrivals.

Italy’s Interior Ministry on Saturday said the navy’s Marco was carrying 600 people initially from Lampedusa to another center in Sicily and from there they would be sent elsewhere in the country.

The ministry said remittances would resume on Sunday.

Interior Ministry figures show that the number of daily asylum seekers arriving in Italy increased continuously in July compared with recent years.

Overall, arrivals have surged this year, with 30,000 refugees landing so far compared with 22,700 in the same period in 2021 and 7,500 in 2020.

Lampedusa, closer to North Africa than to mainland Italy, is often the destination of choice for Libyan migrant smugglers, who charge hundreds of dollars each to cross the Mediterranean in canoes and boats. The boat is crowded and dangerous.

Lampedusa’s former mayor, Giusi Nicolini, posted what she said were photos and videos taken at the center in recent days, showing newcomers sleeping on the floor on pieces of foam and bathrooms filled with plastic bottles and garbage.

“There were 2,100 people packed in the Lampedusa welcome center,” she wrote on Facebook, which has 200 beds for 200 people. “These may be photos from Libya, but no, it’s Italy. And these are the people who survived.”

Right-wing lawmakers were quick to grasp the overcrowding, blaming leftist parties in the Italian government for being too soft on migration.

“And will this be the famous humanitarian model of the left?” Georgia Meloni of Italy’s far-right Brotherhood party tweeted along with the images. “Saying no to mass illegal immigration also means saying no to this.”

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