Following a surge in people arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa by boat, experts say a better response is needed to the ongoing migration crisis.
Dozens of residents of the small Italian island of Lampedusa protested last week following a surge in migrants arriving on their shores.
More than 8,500 people arrived on 199 boats over a period of three days, more than the island’s total population.
While Lampedusa has recently borne the brunt of the nearly 126,000 migrants arriving in Italy so far this year, organisations on the island said residents had offered them assistance.
“The response was one of immediate solidarity that aimed to address the needs, or at least tried to meet the requirements of the individuals who had just arrived,” said Felice Rosa of the Maldusa Association.
The influx prompted Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to call on European countries to share the responsibility.
But French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said France would not welcome any of this latest wave of migrants.
Instead, he said Paris was ready to help Rome return people to countries with which France has good diplomatic relations, citing Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
Experts believe, however, that this may not be feasible.
“Legally speaking, it’s most unlikely that this could be done, unless there are specific agreements that France has been making with those particular countries,” said Michele Levoy, Director of the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.
“But there are standards, informal processes for returning people, that should have the highest human rights standards as well,” she added.
Contrary to what many believe, migrants arriving in Europe are in fact just a small fraction of the number of people leaving their countries, but there is still a great need for a coordinated policy.
“People are going to continue leaving their homes. But we also need to understand that most people do not come to Europe. Most go to neighbouring countries,” said Camille Le Coz, Associate Director of the Migration Policy Institute, Europe.
“So, what we need to think of as Europeans is how we better organise a system when people get to European shores so that we avoid the kind of constant political crisis, we keep seeing.”
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