Since earlier this month, the migration holding site at Lampedusa has been entirely emptied. Yes, astonishingly, the same location that once held 1,800 migrants has been entirely devoid of anyone being held at the center.
According to an account earlier this month from Human Rights Watch, the last 20 asylum seekers were transferred to a facility on mainland Italy, while most other new migrants coming by boat have been forcibly escorted back to Libya via joint Libyan-Italian naval patrols.
“The emptying of Lampedusa is no cause for celebration,” said Bill Frelick, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “Many people will no longer have an opportunity to seek or find asylum from war and persecution and almost all will be subjected to indefinite detention in Libyan detention centers, where conditions are poor and allegations of abuse are rife.”
In addition, recent media reports in The Guardian also indicate that the Belusconi and Gaddafi governments have joined up in a tit-for-tat alliance, whereby Italy will provide $200 per year over the next 25 years for investments in infrastructure in Libya. The north African nation, for its part, will contribute patrol boats and will agree to house Italian desert radar stations to track potential migrants to the north.