Refugees Swamp Tiny Italian Island

Protest meets arrivals, as mayor says nation has no plan
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2020 11:10 AM CDT
Stranded Refugees Get Italy's Help
Members of the Astral crew, a ship from the Spanish NGO Open Arms, approach the Louise Michel?in the Mediterranean on Friday.   (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)

Italy dispatched a coast guard patrol in the Mediterranean Sea to save refugees stranded on a bright pink rescue boat—painted and funded by Banksy, the British street artist. But now there's another problem. The hundreds of evacuees have overwhelmed the shelters on the small island they were ferried to, prompting an angry demonstration and a promise of a strike in protest. After the crew of the Louise Michel said Italy, Malta, and Germany had ignored its calls for help, Italy's patrol took 49 of the most at-risk passengers off the Louise Michel. The crew said the boat was so overloaded that it couldn't naviagate and might capsize, the Telegraph reports; more than 200 refugees were aboard after being pulled from dinghies in the sea. The crew, which describes itself as "nonhierarchical," reported one death on board.

When the refugees reached Lampedusa on Saturday night, they were met by protesters, some shouting, "Enough!" The mayor said he'll call a strike this week "against a government which doesn't have a strategy" to handle the crush of refugees, per AP. A migrant center designed for fewer than 200 people now has 1,200. Thousands of people have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East, per the Washington Post. The Louise Michel and other private craft remain at sea, seeking permission from Italy and Malta to let their passengers off on land. They're carrying hundreds of refugees in total, some of whom have been on the boats for weeks. The Lousie Michel had tweeted that it was in danger because of the crowding and loss of control "but above all due to Europe ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance." (More refugees stories.)

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