Italy sends army to Sicily as migrants flee quarantine centres

Soldiers to guard quarantine centres in Sicily after migrants flee en masse.

Italy's interior minister Luciana Lamorgese has announced plans to send the military to Sicily after around 100 migrants violated quarantine and fled a detention centre in Porto Empedocle on the western coast of the island on 27 July.

Lamorgese stated later that most of the missing migrants had been located and all had tested negative for covid-19, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

The interior minister has also pledged to send a navy ship, to be used for quarantine purposes, and organise transfers of migrants from Sicilian detention centres to elsewhere in Italy, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The migrants had been at a temporary tensile structure where they were undergoing a 14-day quarantine after arriving by boat from Tunisia in recent days.

The holding facility, which was previously guarded by civil protection authorities, will now be guarded by the military instead.

The incident in Porto Empedocle came after 184 migrants fled another detention centre in the Sicilian city of Caltanissetta on 26 July, with 125 of them located by the following day, according to the government.

Italian online newspaper Il Post reported that there were differing reasons for the two breakouts: in Caltanissetta the migrants had received "distorted information" about their imminent repatriation to Tunisia, while in the case of Porto Empedocle the overcrowded environment was described by mayor Ida Carmina as "inhuman conditions."

Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio has voiced concerns that such incidents may impede Italy's efforts to contain the spread of covid-19.

"The virus has not gone. Italian citizens, just like me, need to keep abiding by the rules that we set ourselves, and the same goes for tourists and those entitled to international protection," Di Maio said.

Photo La Repubblica

General Info

Address 92014 Porto Empedocle, AG, Italy

View on Map

Italy sends army to Sicily as migrants flee quarantine centres

92014 Porto Empedocle, AG, Italy