In the face of a rush of migrants coming onto Lampedusa, doubling the population of the Italian island in the last week, the right-wing government in Rome adopted on Monday measures designed to curb immigration.
The Cabinet under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni decided to increase the maximum duration of deportation detention by six months to 18 months. The added time is needed to determine whether a person has the right to stay, and would, if required, allow for the direct deportation from the detention centres.
In addition, the Defence Ministry is to create “structures” to detain migrants who have entered the country irregularly.
These detention centres are to be set up in sparsely populated areas of the country, thereby preventing any “further inconvenience and insecurity in Italian cities,” Meloni said.
Sources close to Meloni reported that the prime minister said at the meeting that the government was united behind the decision.
So far this year there are already more than 129,800 new arrivals in Italy, compared to 68,000 at this time a year ago, according to Interior Ministry figures. In 2021, that figure was 43,265, meaning between 2021 and 2023 at this time the number of migrants has tripled.
In recent days, thousands of migrants have again landed on Lampedusa in boats from Africa - last Tuesday alone, more than 5,000 arrived on the island between Sicily and North Africa - a record for a single day. Thousands were then taken to Sicily or the Italian mainland on ferries and police boats. In the meantime, the situation on Lampedusa has somewhat returned to normal.
But in Sicily, where 1,000 were sent to the southern port city of Porto Empedocle to allieve the overcrowding on Lampedusa, a migrant reception centre there was the site of chaotic scenes on Monday, with about a hundred migrants leaving the camp, as they climbed over fences and broke through barriers, according to media reports.