The Italian coastguard has rescued 539 migrants on the fishing boat off the local island of Lampedusa, the BBC reported. At least 20 of the migrants who were examined by medical personnel had scars from torture.
The Doctors Without Borders’ operation on Lampedusa was finished successfully after all migrants were landed on Lampedusa soil. According to Alida Serrachieri, a nurse from DWB, the dangerously packed boat would have travelled about 300 kilometres from the Libyan coast to Lampedusa.
“They had burn wounds, firearms wounds,” Serrachieri said. “[People] were very worn down, some were dehydrated.”
Many of the migrants were from North Africa or West Africa but some were from Bangladesh. The Italian media reports suggest some of the migrants may have been falsely imprisoned in Libya. Italian prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what may have happened.
In addition, two small boats with about 15 migrants each reached Lampedusa’s waters unaided from Tunisia earlier Saturday, she said. A third such boat with about 20 aboard was spotted approaching the island Saturday afternoon.
Italy asks the EU support in dealing the migrants
The Lampedusa housing complex can hold about 250 people but Saturday’s arrivals swelled the number of occupants to about 1200. Many migrants were awaiting transfer by boat to Sicily or the Italian mainland.
Over the years, Lampedusa mayor Salvatore Martello was asking for assistance from the EU nations in dealing with the migrants. Saturday has been one of the biggest landings in recent times was “one of the biggest landings in recent times” and protested the lack of a centralised system for managing the influx of migrants.
Once again, the island prepares to bear the burden of humanitarian reception alone. I am the first to say that we must support, at all levels, the commitment of the international community to the drama that is being experienced in Afghanistan, but it is fair to remember that there are other territories and countries in which human rights are denied on a daily basis and fundamental rights such as health, education and food.