The prefect of the Sicilian city of Agrigento announced a record 35,000 migrants landed on Lampedusa in 2021. That compares to nearly 20,000 in 2020. The island has reached its capacity limit, the prefect warned.
The tragedy of the many forced to flee war and famine, and now a pandemic, gained the limelight in Italy recently. The sheer force of numbers, and images of the distraught faces of those disembarking from rescue ships, brought the story home.
The prefect of Agrigento, Maria Rita Cocciufa, reassured the number of those testing positive for Covid-19 “has so far been quite limited”. However, arrivals are continuing, despite the cold weather. They are also reaching the shores of southern Sardinia and Spain.
Record number of migrants arrive on Lampedusa
The prefect of Agrigento told an end-of-year press conference, “we have reached some 35,000 arrivals of migrants on Lampedusa. It was an even heavier year than 2020, when we reported nearly 20,000 arrivals.”
“As far as the management of immigrants in relation to Covid is concerned, so far no significant number of infections has been recorded. The number of cases, until now, has been quite contained. Migrants are scrupulously controlled,” she told reporters.
Earlier this month, the minister for infrastructure and sustainable mobility, Enrico Giovannini, visited Lampedusa. He said the island should be seen “above all as a border of the European Union.”
Growing problems in Agrigento
Speaking about the growing number of arrivals, Cocciufa went on to say that “we have many concerns over the management of this phenomenon which has taken significant proportions.
“Agrigento has always been a province of landings. But objectively, over the last two years, there has been a growing trend that has created quite a few problems. We are getting organised to safeguard the health of migrants and our citizens.”
She concluded, “The people of Agrigento, in this respect, are understanding. No intolerance has ever been registered towards migrants – the objective is to give security to citizens and migrants.”