Italian Red Cross responds to influx of Tunisian migrants
Italian Red Cross is responding to the influx of migrants from Tunisia who continue to arrive by boat on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Some 5,000 undocumented migrants have been intercepted by Italian coastguards and brought to the tiny island, where the Italian Red Cross is providing healthcare and basic necessities such as clothing, food and first aid kits.
The migrants are predominantly young men, over 30 of whom are reported to have drowned on route.
Over 1,000 have been transferred to the mainland, in Calabria and Sicily. In Porto Empedocle, Sicily, local Red Cross branches have deployed volunteers and vehicles, and have setting up a camp for an initial 500 people in nearby Rosolini. Along with accommodation, migrants will also be provided with food, clothing and other basic necessities.
Spokesman for Italian Red Cross Tommaso Della Longa has confirmed that the organisation will provide all relevant services under its mandate.
"We have recognised expertise in migration, thanks to our national centre for migrants outside Rome, and due to prior experience with large influxes of migrants in Lampedusa itself," he noted. "We are holding regular meetings with the Ministry of the Interior to coordinate where best to host this latest influx and what services are needed."
He added that the Red Cross emblem is a great asset as it is well known and recognised by the migrants.
Anitta Underlin, Director of the International Federation's Europe Zone has congratulated Italian Red Cross for its speedy response. "The situation is obviously alarming and we are keeping a close eye on developments. Our prime concern is that migrants receive the care they are entitled to. We have been in close contact with Italian Red Cross ever since migrants started to arrive form Tunisia and we will respond to any requests for assistance."
Italy's Council of Ministers has declared a humanitarian emergency and reopened the centre for immigration on Lampedusa. The island lies around 113 kilometres from Tunisia and 205 kilometres south of Sicily.