Lampedusa is a tiny Italian island near Malta. It is located 205km from Porto Empedocle in Sicily, 167km from Tunisia and 167km from Libya. It has only 6,000 permanent inhabitants. With the recent failure of Libya to honour a 2004 agreement the Island's resources are being overwhelmed by clandestine immigrants from Africa en-route to Europe.
The immigrants come through Lampedusa, as if through a permanently open door. They do not want to stay too long. Their objective is to go somewhere else, to the rich cities of the north of Italy or of Europe. It is a problem for the European Community, as much as Italy's problem.
At the beginning of July, 1000 clandestine immigrants reached the shores of this little island, in just 12 hours. Two women died, one was pregnant.
The Mayor of Lampedusa Bernardino De Rubeis comments: "It is an uninterrupted influx, we cannot cope. The immigrants are escaping war or famine. This is the nearest port from North Africa, that is why they all end up here. And here nothing functions anymore: the rubbish collection, the sewers, the water supply, the hospital. With 6,000 inhabitants plus the tourists, we must ration even the water to provide for the immigrants. The desalination plant cannot cope. Meanwhile, there are thousands of other refugees ready to leave from Libya."
Nobody criticises the Libyan Government for not respecting previous accords with the last Government, which included the surveillance of the coast, especially the port of Zwara, from where the immigrants leave, undisturbed and uncontrolled by the Libyan authorities.
During the night about twenty clandestines, escaped the Immigration Centre and terrorized the locals by going into shops to buy alcoholic beverages, and then getting drunk.
The island is torn between immigrants, inhabitants and tourists, because the resources do not grow with the growth of the population, a truth that is ignored at our peril, even at the global level.
However, if we do the numbers, we find out that every clandestine immigrant brings the Immigration Centre 36€ a day. Every day in Lampedusa there are about 400 clandestine immigrants, which means about 60,000€ a day, all in the pockets of the association "Lampedusa accoglienza" (Lampedusa Reception) which administers the Centre.
A new business.
See also: Migrant swell hits Lampedusa of 31 Jul 08, About 800 illegal immigrants land in Southern Italy of 31 Jul 08, Malta receives proportionately 18 times more migrants than Italy of (undated) from the Malta Independent, Italy: 1,000 illegal immigrants moved from overflowing holding centre of 1 Aug 08, Boat migrants swamp Italian island of 31 Jul 08.