The quarantine ship “explodes” The fury of migrants on board


THE migrants they do not want to stay on the quarantine ship, they protest and are “satisfied”. This is what happened yesterday in Porto Empedocle, in the Agrigento area, inside the Moby Zazà, the ship that went into operation last week to host migrants arriving in Lampedusa and the coasts of the province of Agrigento through autonomous landings. Yesterday, while the ship was on the quay to refuel, 14 Tunisians began to protest with the aim of being able to abandon the boat. The situation risked to degenerate and it was therefore decided to bring the “rebels” down to the mainland to transfer them later to a reception center. In the late evening, after being reported by the police, the 14 migrants were accompanied to the former Villa Sikania center in Siculiana.

There is no peace for ship quarantine which, a few days after its opening to migrants, has already recorded episodes of some seriousness. Before yesterday’s protest, in fact, on Wednesday a young Tunisian launched himself from the ship. His lifeless body was found a few hours later by a helicopter of the Palermo master’s office. What happened has caused quite a stir, primarily in the world of politics. But there was no lack of controversy even from NGOs operating in the Mediterranean. For example, the Sea Watch spoke of a “floating prison” for migrants.

As will be remembered, the quarantine ship was repeatedly requested by the mayor of Lampedusa, Pozzallo and Porto Empedocle, together with other mayors from the Agrigento area, as early as 8 April. All this to cope with the numerous autonomous arrivals of migrants from the Mediterranean. The non-EU citizens who have landed in the Agrigento coast in the last two months have been so many that their reception was difficult in a period of medical emergency. Precisely for this reason the ship for the quarantine was requested loudly with several appeals.

The ship is now there and, putting aside the problems that have occurred in this first week, there are now other problems that have to do with its capacity. Until yesterday the Moby Zazà hosted 120 migrants, tonight it will be fully booked. Yes, because the 137 non-EU immigrants who arrived in Lampedusa the day before yesterday will board. If mathematics is not an opinion, from this evening onwards the guests will be little more than the cabins available to them, about 250. If other migrants should arrive in the next few hours, what should we expect? The ship just doesn’t seem to be enough.

To these considerations, we must also add the derision deriving from the costs of the ship: as pointed out in recent days on IlGiornale, the Moby Zazà could cost taxpayers at least 900,000 Euros per month. An average of 4,000 Euros per month for each of the 250 migrants that the naval unit can host inside. These are the figures that can be read from the announcement that led to the assignment of the quarantine service for migrants to the Onorato group ship. The costs did not fail to generate political controversies.

The League, for example, thundered very strongly both against the important figures relating to the announcement and against the opportunity to entrust the service to a ship of the Onorato group. The latter, again according to some Northern League parliamentarians, would have a dispute with the Ministry of Transport and for this reason he should not have participated in the tender. To our microphones the deputy group leader of the League in the Chamber, Alessandro Pagano, in recent days spoke of little transparency on the part of the government and of the inopportunity of the ship’s arrival in Sicily: “We are not talking about a third hand inflatable boat, but – underlined Pagano – of a ship with self-service restaurant, pizzeria, ice cream shop, admiral. All this while Italian families and businesses are on their knees due to the serious economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic“.

However, in the face of costs elevated of the ship and the service relating to the respect of the quarantine for migrants, the Moby Zazà as seen at the moment does not seem to be able to fulfill its function. And the advance of the warm season does not promise anything good: in Sicily hopefully in the return of tourists from the North, but the events of the last few days and the events of the quarantine ship have instead fueled the fear that, on the contrary, the island may remain embroiled by migratory flows from the South. Also because comforting news has not come from the other side of the Mediterranean in recent weeks. Hundreds would be ready to leave from Libya and Tunisia, for the smugglers the “Phase 2” has already started some time ago.

There war in Libya, in particular, it could act as a real detonator of the migratory phenomenon in the coming summer. The conflict, as explained in these days on InsideOver, has reached a crucial phase which has seen militiamen loyal to Prime Minister Al Sarraj advancing along the coast west of Tripoli. Many of the locations recently taken over by pro-government groups have often been used as a base by smugglers and traffickers in past years. In Sabratha as in Sorman, towns taken by pro Al Sarraj militiamen last April, several groups involved in human trafficking would be ready to resume the macabre business linked to the journeys of hope. Among these, the clan of Al Dabbashi stands out, whose main exponent, namely Ibrahim Al Dabbashi, has returned to “his” Sabratha after three years of exile. It would have been he, especially since 2014, who set up one of the most powerful criminal organizations involved in the migration phenomenon.

Bad news also comes from Tunisia, where for months now there has been a real alliance between local and Libyan criminal groups. In particular, the latter increasingly send hundreds of migrants to neighboring Tunisia, from whose coasts it is much easier to reach Lampedusa. It is no coincidence that aboard the last inflatable boats that arrived in Sicily, almost always departed from Tunisia, the presence of Tunisians is increasingly rarely noticed and, on the contrary, it is possible to find that of migrants from the Sahel and transited from Libya. Between negative signals from North Africa and insufficient responses from Rome, Sicily and Italy therefore risk having to deal with one of the most difficult summers on the migration front before long. The story of the Moby Zazà ship is currently the clearest example of the current situation.

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