“A [wooden] raft fleeing Libya is in danger […]. The situation on board is worrying, people are panicked and the boat is drifting. They have been at sea for more than 30 hours and are now a few kilometers from Lampedusa,” said Alarm Phone, the platform for helping migrants in distress at sea.
In addition, on Sunday May 3, 44 other migrants reached the island of Lampedusa in the afternoon after being rescued at sea by the Italian authorities. The raft had been spotted a few hours earlier in Maltese waters by Valletta, who had sent a merchant ship to monitor the situation.
Some 423 people disembarked at Lampedusa in April, up from 111 in March. At the same time, 119 migrants arrived in Spain: 10 on Saturday and 109 more on Sunday in seven boats. Monday, 56 people also landed in the Canaries.
As a reminder, on April 17, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced that it would stop its missions to rescue migrants at sea, after failing to reach an agreement with SOS Méditerranée which charters it, on the possibility of operating despite the health crisis.
Also, on April 17, when some migrants in Palermo were transferred from the Alan Kurdi rescue vessel, the Italian government had spoken of an agreement with the EU and Germany for relocations. But Brussels denied having received coordination offers from Italy
Thus, the situation in Palermo seems to be all but resolved: Italian ports have been closed to NGOs and migrants are kept in quarantine on board a ship anchored not far from the entrance to the port of Palermo.
The Conte administration has given the assurance of an agreement with Germany and the EU for the relocation of migrants to Europe.
In a nutshell, due to the ongoing health emergency, the Italian government has opted for the reception of migrants on board NGO ships on naval vessels. And so the 186 people brought into Italian waters by the NGO Sea Eye and Salvamento Humanitario Maritimo, were therefore transhipped on the Raffaele Rubattino, an Italian naval ship positioned in the bay of the port of Palermo.
After the quarantine, the migrants in question was supposed to be relocated to Europe thanks to agreements with Germany. Already on Monday, actually, when the migrants were released from the Rubattino once the quarantine was over, it was obvious that something was wrong.
Why, during the Coronavirus emergency would other European countries take charge of welcoming a quota of migrants who had arrived in Italy? This question was answered implicitly by the refusal on the part of the European Union itself.
“At the request of the Member States, we are ready to act as we have done in the past,” the spokesman for migration and internal affairs of the European Commission, Adalbert Jahnz said. “As regards the specific situation, which affects the people who have been landed in Italy, we have not yet received a request from Italy to coordinate a relocation.”
The migrants have remained in Italy instead: The minors were in fact accompanied to Campania, while the adults were relocated to Puglia.
This situation could have many political consequences, given that the Italian government has been making fraudulent claims about relocating migrants.