''When the weather is good, thousands are ready to come to Italy. The country must prepare to deal with this flow from North Africa,'' said Oliviero Forte, head of the Immigration Office of Caritas Italy, referring to Libya in particular. He issued this warning this morning during the 3-day conference MigraMed 2012 in Cagliari, which focuses on the emergency of refugees with the Caritas organisations in the Mediterranean area.
Lampedusa is still the most attractive port for migrants arriving over sea, but the Sardinian coasts could also draw many African refugees once again. ''The transitional government in Libya is unable to manage the flow of migrants,'' said Forti, ''and although this is not a mass exodus as happened during the Arab Spring, the phenomenon will still overload an already saturated reception system." Therefore Caritas Italy and the diocesan Caritas network urge the institutions to grant refugees who come to Italy in the context of the national emergency plan for North Africa a temporary permit for humanitarian reasons.
''It's a matter of freeing space to be able to receive the new wave arriving from the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, via Libya, at our coasts,'' Forti explains. Today was the first day of MigraMed 2012 in Cagliari. ''An opportunity to ask reception, freedom and work for these individuals, the three cornerstones of this conference, in a productive discussion between representatives from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey and Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Malta and Albania'', underlined Don Francesco Soddu, director of Caritas Italy. The number of people in Italian reception centres has reached 20,000 and another 3,000 are being taken care of by Caritas, nearly all of them from sub-Saharan Africa. ''Italy has accepted most immigrants,'' said Raffaele Callia, editor of a statistical report on immigration. ''Four million eight hundred thousand foreigners are living regularly in Italy, focused in the north-west, north-east and centre of Italy, in that order. The south of Italy and the islands have received fewer immigrants. They come to Italy to find work, but the number of people who arrive here to join their relatives is increasing. Most come from Europe, especially from Rumania, followed by Albania, Morocco and an increasing number from the Ukraine and Moldavia."