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Lampedusa immigrant reception center

Lampedusa immigrant reception center, officially Reception Center (CDA) of Lampedusa, has been operating since 1998, when the Italian island of Lampedusa became a primary European entry point for immigrants from Africa.[1] The reception center's capacity of 801 people has been greatly exceeded by numerous boat people arriving from various parts of Africa.[2]


Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has become a prime transit point for illegal immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe. In 2004, the Libyan and Italian governments reached a secret agreement that obliged Libya to accept those deported from Italian territories. This resulted in the mass return of many people from Lampedusa to Libya between 2004 and 2005 without the endorsement of European Parliament.[3]

By 2006 many immigrants were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get them to Lampedusa by boat.[4] On arrival, most were then transferred by the Italian government to reception centres in mainland Italy. Many were then released because their deportation orders were not enforced.[5]

In 2009, the overcrowded conditions at the island's temporary immigrant reception centre came under criticism by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The unit, which was originally built for a maximum capacity of 850 people, was reported to be housing nearly 2,000 boat people. A significant number of people were sleeping outdoors under plastic sheeting.[6] A fire started during an inmate riot destroyed a large portion of the holding facility on 19 February 2009. Most of the immigrants were from Ghana, Mali and Nigeria and were working illegally as seasonal farm workers.[7]

In 2011 many more immigrants came to Lampedusa during the rebellions in Tunisia and Libya.[8] By May 2011, more than 35,000 immigrants had arrived on the island from Tunisia and Libya.[9] By the end of August, 48,000 had arrived.[10] Most were young males in their 20s and 30s.[11] The situation has caused division within the EU, the French government regarding most of the arrivals as economic migrants rather than refugees in fear of persecution.[12] The Libyan ambassador to Italy stated that Gaddafi controlled illegal immigration to meet his goals- "he wanted to turn Lampedusa black with Africans".[10]

In October 2013, the center accommodated the survivors of the shipwreck of a boat carrying migrants from Eritrea, Somalia and elsewhere, which capsized offshore, resulting in least 300 deaths.[13] The press referred to that incident as the "Lampedusa boat disaster".[14]

See also


  1. ^ Refugee crisis on Lampedusa
  2. ^
  3. ^ European Parliament resolution on Lampedusa, 14 April 2005
  4. ^ Out of Africa: The human trade between Libya and Lampedusa
  5. ^ Bitter harvest, The Guardian, 19 December 2006
  6. ^ UNHCR Concerned over Humanitarian Situation in Lampedusa, Italy
  7. ^ "Assistance For Illegal Migrant Workers in Italy". Médecins Sans Frontières. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Reid, Sue (4 April 2011). "Special dispatch: Gaddafi's diaspora and the Libyans overwhelming an Italian island who are threatening to come here". Daily Mail (London). 
  9. ^ "Hundreds more migrants reach Italy from Africa". Reuters. 14 May 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Gaddafi planned to turn Italian island into migrant hell
  11. ^ Guterres, António (9 May 2011). "Look Who's Coming to Europe". The New York Times. 
  12. ^ [1]
  13. ^ "Lampedusa disaster: Europe's migrant dilemma". BBC News. 4 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Lampedusa boat disaster: Aerial search mounted". BBC News. 5 October 2013. 

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