Whilst the world continues to focus on the migration tragedy of 3rd October and subsequent migrant boats that have arrived on Sicily's shores, the town of Scicli has been remembering the 13 migrants who died off the beach of Sampieri on 30th September.
Their funeral service was held in Scicli yesterday in the presence of Domenico Manzione, Undersecretary of State for the Interior, the Mayor of Scicli, the Prefect, Police Commissioner and Mayor of Ragusa, other dignitaries, representatives of the emergency services and other citizens. Relatives of some of the deceased Eritrean men also attended the service, having travelled from other European countries where the men had probably hoped to settle.
A Coptic Christian priest spoke in both Tigrinya and Italian and described the migrants' ordeal as they were sold like slaves or objects from one people trafficker to another and then crossed the desert to Libya. From there, they set sail, believing that they were leaving behind hunger and war and travelling to a better life, only to meet death just metres from safety. Padre La China, who conducted the Catholic part of the service, reminded the congregation that the sea is often associated with evil in the Bible:
|And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.|
|So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.|
|But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.|
- John 6:18-20
Mr Manzione brought messages of sympathy from President Napolitano and Prime Minister Letta. He said that he had not wished to speak yesterday as he regarded it as a "day of silence" but did say that he hoped the young men were now in a better world and that we who are left behind must guarantee humane treatment for those fleeing oppressive régimes. Mr Manzione had also been very moved by the Coptic priest's words and said that the genuine sorrow of both the Eritrean and Italian communities was an example of the real meaning of solidarity.
All the coffins were draped in red, the colour of the city of Scicli, for the funeral. Relatives of the four Muslim men among the dead asked that their loved ones be buried in the Muslim section of the cemetery in Ragusa Ibla, a request that has been granted by the Mayor.