Another week brings another tragedy, this time involving a migrant boat off Al Khums [Homs], about 100 miles east of Tripoli. The Libyan Navy managed to save 22 people who were clinging to the remains of the wreckage but it is estimated that 100 are missing. So far 20 bodies have been recovered.
The boat, which was, as usual, inadequate, was carrying around 155 passengers and was heading for Italy. It is not yet known what caused it to capsize but it is thought that the passengers might have suddenly all moved to one side or that the condition of the boat led to the tragedy. Survivors say it was very old.
Over 800 African migrants arrived in Italy on Tuesday alone and of these 192, including three pregnant women, were rescued by the Italian Navy north of Libya. A petrol tanker sailing under a Bahamas flag saved 114 Somali migrants and Mare Nostrum operatives saved a further 404, including a pregnant woman and four newborn babies. All have been taken to Puglia.
Today 95 male migrants, including 40 minors, have been saved south of Lampedusa in another Mare Nostrum operation. These migrants have been taken to Palermo and will be transferred to other centres in Italy after 48 hours [the time needed for initial identification and assessment, including medical checks].
Also today Ragusa police have arrested three men on suspicion of aiding illegal immigration - that is, of being people traffickers.
But let us end on a heartwarming note with a tale that renews one's faith in Italy: a few days ago a young woman named Naima, who had arrived in Italy on a migrant boat with her parents and husband in September 2013, went into labour at the Cara di Mineo Centre for Asylum Seekers [Catania]. She was first taken to hospital in Caltagirone, where doctors discovered that the baby was suffering from a rare and serious intestinal malformation. Naima would need surgery and time was of the essence. She was immediately transferred by helicopter to the Policlinico di Palermo and there an interdisciplinary team were able to save the baby, who is now well and basking in their attention and affection. The lead surgeon says the baby boy will not need to be in hospital for long. Naima and her husband want to stay in Italy and are waiting for documents that will allow them to do so. Meanwhile, welcome to the world, little one and well done, Caltagirone and Palermo!