Safety and Rescue, yes! Hot-spot and militarization, no!
We are impressed by the initiative of the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, Totò Martello, who wants to bring the islands into a “Journey for Peace” – a visionary process for humanity, inviting and including also all civil actors at sea.
We believe in Lampedusa as an “island that saves”, as a natural landing place for thousands of women, men and children crossing the sea, while migrating or fleeing from inhuman conditions. But we have to distinguish and to separate two important issues: rescuing people does not mean to keep humans in camps or hot-spots. As we can see around the treatment of refugees from Ukraine, it is a possible political decision to let people freely move all over Europe, where they have relatives and friends or other contacts that allow them to be welcomed and to live in the best way.
We see how horrible the opposite situation can be, as on the Greek islands like Lesvos or Samos, where people on the move are blocked or even detained in huge camps for months or years, and where a situation of permanent crisis is politically and artificially created. The hot-spot system – the transformation of border islands into militarized zones of emergency – can never be accepted. And in Lampedusa it should be overcome by the “journey to peace”.
As a concrete step in this direction, we support the demand of the mayor for the reconversion of quarantine ships into ferries. The Italian government has extended the use of quarantine ships until 30 April 2022. These ships have never had any valid sanitary reason to fight the pandemic. Rather, they have been used as floating hotspots. They increase the discrimination in treatment, even in relation to covid, for migrants rescued at sea or arrived on Italian coasts after long and dangerous crossings. The mayor’s proposal to re-use them as ferries to facilitate the rapid transfer of people to Sicily, and avoiding the reproduction of permanent emergency situations on the island, is crucial to combine the right to rescue with the right to quick relocation and dignified reception, even in the presence of large numbers.
We need a welcoming Lampedusa and not a militarized island with a closed refugee camp. We need and demand for a peaceful landing and bridging point in the middle of the Central Mediterranean Sea.
Thus, we call all human rights organizations and all migrant rights associations to support the event on 28th of April and to amplify with real and digital sirens the start of a “journey to peace” by the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa and their mayor.
MEDITERRANEA Saving Humans
EMERGENCY ong onlus
MSF – Doctors without Borders
Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario
SEA EYE e.V.