Over 180,000 migrants landed on the island of Lampedusa in 2016 alone. For years, migration has challenged MEPs as much as European citizens, for whom it has become a major concern. Meet the citizens of Lampedusa - fishermen, a doctor and an artist - and see how the migrant crisis has affected them.
The small island of Lampedusa is closer to the coast of Africa than to continental Europe. In 2016 alone, 180,000 migrants landed on its shore. But is 180,000 people an invasion? Are there so many that we can't help them? Doctor Pietro Bartolo has seen tens of thousands of migrants pass through. He has invited us to meet in this strange graveyard where the migrant's boats are left behind. I have been working with immigration for 27 years. I have seen everything pass through and I have met them all. There are more than 300,000, I don't know how many exactly because to me they are not numbers. I do not count them. If we are a community, the European Union, then all of us have to address this phenomenon. Because it's a phenomenon, not a problem. The work of Dr. Bartolo has been the subject of an award winning documentary screened at the European Parliament, For years, the phenomenon of migration has challenged MEPs as much as European citizens, for whom it has become a major concern. We are a union of 28 member states and, the situation as of today, it's the front-line member states facing the Mediterranean sea that we need to show solidarity to. To better understand the reality of migration, several parliamentarians went to border areas: the Balkans, Greece, Sicily. The immigrants refuse to have their fingerprints taken, as they want to move on to other countries in Europe and not stay in the country they arrived in first. The reception of asylum seekers is accompanied by measures to protect the borders of the Union. The fishermen of Lampedusa see the patrols of the coast guard every day. Now, since the immigrants and illegals have been coming, the checks are almost every day, one day there is one the next there isn't. I think that the checks by the Coast Guard patrols are an excellent thing, especially for the border. Italy and the other countries don't do it because there are so many. If you ask me you should help them if you can, while you can, in their country. Europe needs to help. We need to offer shelter to people who are fleeing civil wars. On the other hand, we need to maintain control. Therefore, we need to work on setting up additional border protection. Why are we not strengthening Frontex? For migrants who are granted refugee status, work is the best way to integrate. There are three people working in my studio one of whom is Bacca who arrived in Sicily and has worked with me sculpting Arenaria sandstone for the last three years. He arrived from Gambia, on one of the famous boats, making landfall at Pozzallo and we got him to come to Lampedusa. My dream, when I have documents: I would love to travel the world to experience the movement of the world. Working and living conditions and access to education for workers, migrants and their children, regardless of their status, are an essential factor for their social and economic integration in the host country. The EP wants a permanent mechanism to handle the phenomenon of migration, based on solidarity between member states. We should stop clinging to this myth of 'Fortress Europe' and start managing migration. People who have the right to international protection should not be left on the shores of Europe.