Director General Visits Reception Facility on Island of
Lampedusa- IOM’s Director General, Brunson McKinley, is today
visiting a reception centre for migrants on the Mediterranean island
of Lampedusa, where IOM works alongside UNHCR and the Italian Red
Cross to provide humanitarian assistance to many exhausted migrants
who arrive after perilous journeys on unseaworthy vessels.
"Many more boats will probably arrive on Lampedusa over the summer
with their desperate human cargo and we have to ensure we can
adequately respond to their immediate needs," says Brunson McKinley. "This is why IOM will continue to work closely with the Italian
government, the Italian Red Cross, UNHCR and other partners to
provide appropriate humanitarian responses to irregular migrants and
asylum seekers reaching the island".
IOM recently signed an agreement with the Italian Ministry of the
Interior’s Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration, the
Italian Red Cross and UNHCR which allows for better services at
receptions centres for irregular migrants on the island of Lampedusa,
and at Trapani, Calatanissetta and Siracusa on Sicily.
Since April 2006, IOM has been providing information and legal
orientation to more than 20,000 mostly undocumented migrants in
Lampedusa, where the authorities are currently building a new
reception centre to double the capacity to more than 400 places.
To avoid overcrowding on Lampedusa, the migrants are usually
transferred to other reception centres in Italy such as Crotone,
Foggia or Bari. From there, the migrants may either request asylum
and are then processed, or are repatriated or given an order to leave
the country on their own. Forced returns from Lampedusa stopped in
April 2006 when IOM opened its office at the centre.
Migrants arriving on Lampedusa represent a small percentage of the
total number of irregular migrants entering or overstaying in Italy.
Whilst numbers of migrants landing on Lampedusa and other
Mediterranean islands are known, the numbers of those who drown at
sea or who die in the deserts of North Africa are not.
Prior to his arrival in Lampedusa, Brunson McKinley met the Italian
Minister of the Interior, Giuliano Amato, the Undersecretary of the
Ministry of Social Solidarity, Cristina De Luca and other senior
officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.