Lampedusa: Italian evangelicals write open letter

The Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, Fcei, sent an open letter to the president of the republic, Napolitano, and to all major authorities of Italy.

The evangelicals with other organisations are protesting against the choice of the government to let all immigrants arriving in Italy to stay on the island, regardless of their legal status and their human conditions. These organisations are also arguing that the island of Lampedusa can only host small numbers of immigrants.

What follows is a rough translation of the open letter from the original Italian.

Institutions for the protection of refugees gathered in Table Asylum now turn to the President of the Republic, the President of the Council of Ministers, the Minister of Interior with the following open letter:

The subscribed organizations Tavolo Asylum express deep concern about what is happening at this time to the school for immigrants and asylum seekers located in the village Imbriacola, on Lampedusa, which is used in January as the Center for identification and expulsion (CIE), for decision the Minister of the Interior.

In the center, where there are currently around 800 people, is under way last night by a hunger strike of migrants and this morning there was an extensive fire.

The transformation of the old structure from a first aid center for the identification and execution of the removals have already attracted a national and international concerns, highlighted in the Table of Asylum, known to the authorities of Italy and Europe, and alarmed over the reports of Human Rights Committee of the Senate and the European Parliament delegation.

The implementation chosen by the government, which wanted to concentrate on Lampedusa all migrants who arrive at its shores, whatever their legal status, the island has created a situation of great and growing tension. It is believed that the island of Lampedusa has the features to accommodate a center that has different purposes than those of first asylum and aid, by means of rapid transfer of all migrants in other places, as has happened since April 2006 until December 2008.

We ask once again with more urgency:

that all migrants are immediately transferred to other suitable facilities, where they are carried out administrative procedures, particularly for asylum
that the island of Lampedusa is located exclusively at the facilities for first aid and reception of migrants

It also calls for the verification of any responsibility for what happened.

Amnesty International, Arci, ASGI, House of Social Rights – Focus, Astalli Center, the Italian Council for Refugees – CIR, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, Doctors Without Borders, Senzaconfine

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