Lampedusa Tightens Migrant Controls
The island of Lampedusa in the Southernmost point of Italy and is the location for the famous “Lampedusa In Festival” which is a short film review event.
This event gives prominence to productions related to integration and travel and has received the Medal of Honour from the Italian President in two consecutive years. It has been recognized as a racial harmony promoting event by the UNAR (National Office of Racial Anti-Discrimination).
Since it is the Southernmost point of Italy, it has been a popular entry point for migrants from the African continent, especially the illegal ones. There is only a 70-mile distance from the Tunisian shores. For this reason, over the years, Lampedusa has been a hot spot for tight border controls and issues with migrants.
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These migrants have wreaked havoc in the island over the years breaching law and order of the country and engaging in robberies, sexual harassments, and several other major incidences.
Two years back in 2016 May, a welcome center for refugees which at the time hosted around 500 people was burned down by migrants. In fact, migrants face life threatening challenges to reach the island and in 2013 more than 300 migrants died in a shipwreck off the coast of the island adding to the total of 11,000 migrants who lost their lives to date since the incident.
Even though there are tight border controls, the island has remained a territory for open migrant acceptance in the recent years. The former Mayor of the island Giusi Nicolani was instrumental in implementing this policy. However, the new Mayor Salvatore Martello has implemented strict policies to control the influx of illegal migrants and has vowed to restore law and order in the island as promised in his pre-election campaigns. He has already cut down the number of migrants inhabiting the Refugee Welcome Center of Lampedusa in a move to make the place a more manageable and a more peaceful place to live.
Martello has justified his decision as a measure to restore law and order in the island as well as a move to improve living conditions for the migrants. This seems the logical action considering the unrest and the number of crimes that occurred in the island in the recent months. In fact, the incumbent Mayor has described the situation prevailed in the island as “about to collapse.” He is also determined to strengthen the Police force in the island saying that the Police are “powerless.”