Why are migrants landing in Lampedusa being moved by authorities?

Transferring migrants from the island of Lampedusa to other locations across the country is the only solution Italian authorities have provided to relieve pressure on the local reception centre, which often becomes overcrowded.

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Euronews spoke with some of the new arrivals heading for the Sicilian town of Porto Empedocle by ferry after spending 24 hours on the island.

Most of them are sub-Saharan migrants who fled Tunisia after a wave of racist attacks against black Africans. 

They include two women from the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso, who met each other in Lampedusa.

One of the women explained: “Tunisian people didn’t want to see me there. They didn’t like us, we didn’t feel welcome.

“That’s why we left. I wasn’t deported to the desert. My friends were. We know that people died over there.”

The other woman also spoke about her experiences of racism en route.

“I left Burkina because of the war. I went to Tunisia to be able to travel to Italy. I didn’t last there. It was very difficult because they don’t like black people.”

Migrants usually have to wait to get on board until all passengers including tourists leave the boat, but local residents have mixed feelings about migrants living on the island. 

However, they told Euronews that authorities are better managing landings now compared to before.

On the one hand, it appears people have grown used to seeing migrants live amongst the locals. But on the other, there are concerns about the island’s reputation and about the opinions of outside visitors.

One resident explained: “There’s a lot of solidarity here among locals. They deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

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“When the summer season arrives many people cancel their reservations following a bad advertising campaign, and that can become a problem for many of them.”

However, the first migrant landings by sea date back to the early 1990s. Welcoming new people is part of the island’s DNA. 

With no reception centre in the past, local families used to host the migrants in their homes.

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