© Sara Prestianni, No Border Network

Hundreds, if not thousands of men, women and children are still fleeing the upheavals and atrocities currently being endured in North Africa and the Middle East. Because of this, many have escaped and have boarded ships, hoping for refuge in neighbouring European countries. Of particular concern is the number of individuals reaching the Italian island of Lampedusa, situated half way between Tunisia and Sicily and the way in which these largely asylum seekers and refugees are being treated.

Thousands of immigrants have arrived in Lampedusa since January 2011. Worse still, since January 2011, over 1,000 migrants have drowned while attempting to reach Europe, including Lampedusa and elsewhere. Incoming boats have been arriving regularly from the coast of Northern Africa.

Detention centres are at maximum capacity and this has resulted in ongoing tension. Children are being detained. The greatest concern with this new influx of people seeking asylum in Europe is the way in which European nations are reacting to the human cost, largely with indifference and harsh policies.

IDC member Amnesty International, in their recent Report on the State of the World’s Human Rights, highlights these concerns.

“The signature response of European states to the challenges of significant and complex flows of mixed migration remained repressive, resulting in a consistent pattern of human rights violations linked to the interception, detention and expulsion by states of foreign nationals, including those eligible for international protection.”

Further reading from IDC members:
Amnesty InternationalFindings and Recommendations to the Italian Authorities following the research visit to Lampedusa and Mineo
FahamuLibyan crisis: refugees face detention, violence but are stopped from fleeing
International Catholic Migration CommissionFleeing turmoil in North Africa: Need for shared regional response and protection urgent

Further reading from media and others:
ItalyFleeing North Africa and Landing in an Italian Limbo (NY Times)
ItalyItaly ships 2000 illegal migrants (The Scotsman)
Medecins Sans FrontieresBriefing Paper: Seeking Refuge, Finding Suffering
Council of EuropePACE delegation in Lampedusa: Europe must ‘share, not shirk, responsibility’ for arrivals