04. Oktober 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Lampedusa: EU, Frontex – BBC · Kategorien: Italien, Libyen · Tags: , ,


Lampedusa disaster: Europe’s migrant dilemma

By Laurence Peter BBC News

The migrant boat disaster off Lampedusa has highlighted Europe’s struggle to deal with boatloads of migrants – many with legitimate asylum claims – heading across the Mediterranean from North Africa.

For years the tiny Italian island – closer to North Africa than Italy itself – has been the destination for many African migrants fleeing poverty, conflict or persecution.

Between 1 January and 30 September this year, 30,100 migrants reached Italy on boats from North Africa, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR says. The biggest groups were from Syria (7,500 in total), Eritrea (7,500) and Somalia (3,000).

Both Syria and Somalia have been ripped apart by war, while in Eritrea thousands are either imprisoned on political grounds or face conscription into the army.

Under international law refugees fleeing persecution have a right to asylum, but when hundreds of migrants come ashore the authorities have the difficult task of identifying the genuine asylum seekers. Often they lack papers to prove their nationality or place of origin.

Lampedusa is overburdened with migrants – the island’s normal population is just 6,000 and its migrant reception centre has a capacity of just 250. The capacity was reduced after a fire there in 2011.

Reception centres in Sicily and mainland Italy are better equipped, but „there is always a need to enlarge the centres because the system is under a lot of pressure now“, Federico Fossi of the UNHCR in Rome told the BBC.

He said the Lampedusa centre provides basic help for migrants – food, clothes and medical attention, including psychological care. Many have survived ordeals at sea, or at the hands of ruthless people-traffickers, and are traumatised by that and the abuses they have fled in Africa or the Middle East.

The UNHCR has urged Italy to transfer Lampedusa migrants from the centre there to others in Italy after 48 hours maximum. It has welcomed an Italian plan to expand those centres to a capacity of 16,000, from the current 3,000.

[…] The EU’s border agency Frontex says „the institutional capacity to tackle irregular migration in North Africa remains limited“ and „Libya is of the biggest concern in this respect“ because Libya remains plagued by violence, kidnappings and fragmented institutions.

In its report on illegal migration to the EU in 2012 Frontex said Libya was the main departure point for migrants heading across the Mediterranean to Italy.

[…] Frontex is helping Italy to intercept migrant boats, but the two EU operations in the southern Mediterranean have limited resources – a total of four ships, two helicopters and two planes, Mr Parzyszek said.

[…] Heading north

For many migrants the goal is to travel north in the EU, for example to Scandinavia, the Netherlands or UK, where they hope to find jobs and less hostility from anti-immigration groups. […] „

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