State of emergency in Lampedusa: “There is no more solidarity in Europe”

Nearly 7,000 migrants landed in less than three days on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Completely overwhelmed, the authorities are struggling to take charge the exiled. For Le Parisien, Camille Schmoll, specialist in migration in the Euro-Mediterranean area, analyzes this situation.

How can we explain these mive and sudden arrivals?

CAMILLE SCHMOLL. There is perhaps a desire on the part of the Tunisian government to let migrants go to put pressure on European states, in response to the recent controversial agreements signed with the EU on migration policy. There has been an obvious increase in crossings from Tunisia since the start of the year. This is particularly linked to very high insecurity, with numerous racist demonstrations targeting sub-Saharan migrants for several months. The economic crisis the country is going through is another factor that favors departures.

The problem is also that, since coming to power, the head of the Italian government, Giorgia Meloni, has alienated European governments. There is no more solidarity in Europe whilethere were agreements between Germany and Italy. Emergency management is completely focused on this small Italian island, which cannot cope with such an influx.

Is there a link with the recent situations of instability in certain African countries?

Certainly this encourages departures, but it is not necessarily linked. We cannot make a link with the coup in Niger for example, it’s more complex. The migrations we observe here mainly concern people who have been living in North Africa for a long time or who have had fairly long trajectories.

Should we see a “migratory submergence”, as some claim?

We are far from the figures for 2015, when a million people made the crossing. Since then, Mediterranean migrations have declined significantly. On the other hand, it is obvious that instability in the regions of departure, which is the case in Tunisia, creates insecurity for migrants and increases the probability of departures.

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