‘Ghost’ migrant ships continue to land in Lampedusa

Migrant ships have allegedly continued to land in Italy despite measures taken by Salvini to close ports. Photo credit: Il Corriere della Sicurezza

LAMPEDUSA - Scores of so-called ghost migrant ships have landed in Lampedusa and not been recorded by the Interior Ministry since the start of 2019, Il Fatto Quotidiano has revealed.

 Deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly affirmed that Italy’s ports are closed to ships carrying migrants, and that those aboard will not be allowed to disembark onto Italian soil.

 However, these findings would seem to suggest that ghost migrant landings, so named as those who arrive are not officially recorded, have continued to occur in Lampedusa in spite of Salvini’s agenda and the Interior Ministry’s official numbers.  

 According to statistics released by the Interior Ministry, only 501 migrants have landed in Italy thus far in 2019, a number far smaller than the 3,500 that arrived in 2018 or the 9,500 that disembarked the previous year.

 However, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that two boats and a total of 39 migrants landed on Italian soil on Monday alone and have not been counted in these official numbers.

 Lampedusa’s mayor Totò Martello corroborated these numbers and added that 141 migrants had arrived over a period of just six days in January. They too had not been officially recorded.

 Martello told the newspaper that the Lampedusa authorities were no longer given any accurate numbers on migrant arrivals by the government, and thus had to rely on their own accounts to estimate how many people the 20 square kilometre island was housing.

 “There was a greater sharing of information before,” Martello said, “I don’t understand why it can’t continue in a similar vein given that migrant landings in Lampedusa have never stopped and the ports are open.”

 He went on to address the Mare Jonio, which earlier this month docked in Lampedusa after rescuing 49 migrants off the coast of Libya despite Salvini’s prohibiting such boats to do so: “In this case no one stopped the ship. Why? Simple, because there are no controls.”

 Martello’s local voice undermines Salvini’s narrative and, if true, would in fact point to a far lesser change in migrant arrivals since his arrival in office June 2018 than the Interior Minister makes out.