Each summer, Italy receives thousands of migrants arriving in boats from Africa. Lampedusa, a small island south of Sicily, is a landing spot for more than 18,000 immigrants every year. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical care at the port where boats land after hazardous trips across the Mediterranean Sea. In recent weeks, a series of dramatic landings have been recorded in the Canal of Sicily, with people arriving in very bad condition. Luciano Grisio, a doctor with MSF, describes what he sees during his work on the island.
Who are the migrants and in what state of health do they arrive on Lampedusa?
The migrants who land on Lampedusa come mainly from North African countries, from the Middle East and from West Africa, but there are also people who have left from Pakistan and Kashmir. Most of them are men, often very young, but some with grey hair; children and women are a minority. The migrants began the journey that led them to Italy several months, some even one or two years prior, stopping periodically in countries along the route to work and put aside the money they needed to continue their trip. They generally reach the dock exhausted, thirsty, sometimes dehydrated, with skin erythema caused by the sun and sea salt, with burns from the petrol used as fuel for the rubber dinghies, and often with respiratory infections. Moreover, many appear resigned and completely drained of energy.
What kind of medical assistance is MSF offering at the port?
The MSF team is made up of two doctors, a nurse and a cultural mediator. After being notified of a landing