Lampedusa: open the borders!

Submitted by Matthew on 9 October, 2013 - 11:19

As of 8 October, only 155 people seem to have survived the wreck of a small boat in which Somali and other migrants were attempting to reach Italy from Libya.

The boat sank just off the coast of Lampedusa, a small Italian-owned island in the middle of the Mediterranean, between Sicily and Tunisia.

It is reckoned to have had over 500 people on board — over 25 for each metre of its 20-metre length. 232 bodies have been found so far.

Just a day before the boat sank, the Council of Europe condemned the immigration policy of the Italian state.

The Council criticised the policy under which migrants who survive such boat trips are then often forcibly returned to countries where death or torture are everyday risks.

Many migrants are put into “detention centres” before being forcibly returned. Italy, the report says, maintains a permanent “State of Emergency” on its shores.

Armed coastguards often confront the overcrowded, flimsy boats full of refugees.

Other European countries use these policies as an excuse to refuse to share responsibility with Italy for the absorption and settlement of migrants who go to Italy first because it is the EU country whose territory is most easily reached by boat across the Mediterranean.

Lebanon is currently dealing with an inflow of Syrian refugees equivalent, as a proportion of its population, to eight million people coming to Britain to seek safety.

The richer countries should open up their fiercely-guarded borders.

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