More "boatloads of sorrow" unsurprisingly arrived over the Easter weekend, when at least 2,000 desperate souls were brought to safety as part of Operazione Mare Nostrum, and it is estimated that a similar number arrived last weekend.
Among these were 395 migrants, including 12 newborn babies, who were rescued by the Italian military and Coast Guard and brought to Pozzallo on Friday. The reception centre at Pozzallo is full, despite the fact that transfer flights to other parts of Italy for some of the migrants have been operating. The centre remains full because others just keep coming. The Mayor of Pozzallo has expressed his exasperation at the lack of response from central government and has called upon Premier Renzi to intervene.
Also on Friday, a pregnant woman who was taken from one of the boats to hospital in Siracusa, where she gave birth to a baby girl, found care, kindness and solidarity: realising that she had no baby clothes or other necessities for her daughter, the staff decided to collect what they could. Another mother on the ward immediately gave the woman the blankets she had brought for her own baby and, inspired by this gesture, all the other mothers gave the little one sheets, clothing, shoes and other items. I am happy to be able to tell you that both mother and baby are now fine and they have been discharged from hospital.
In a statement issued a few minutes ago by the Viminale, the seat of the Italian Interior Ministry, it is estimated that 800,000 migrants are now waiting to sail for Sicily from Libya. One solution that was put forward by concerned agencies on Tuesday was the idea of sending a European task force to Libya, to stop the departures in the first place. I am no politician so I do not know what the chances would be of obtaining agreement for such a project from inside Libya, but I should have thought they were slight. The second problem is one I have mentioned before: people will always attempt to flee hunger, war and persecution and their right to do so is surely enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which talks about its "recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."
At the moment I am reading Claude Lanzmann's memoir, The Patagonian Hare. His chapters about the Second World War are a timely reminder of the kind of régimes people might be fleeing.