Wednesday, February 11, 2015


It is with great sorrow that I write today of further losses in the Mediterranean, making Monday's migration tragedy one of the worst the Sicilian Channel has ever seen.  The story is being reported around the world now, but some reports are giving the impression - unsurprisingly, as the information is being constantly updated - that this is a new tragedy. I am not a journalist but I'll try to clarify and give you more details from Italy:

According to statements given by nine survivors who have been brought to Lampedusa, on Saturday not three, but four dinghies set sail for Europe from Libya.  The survivors are giving the number of those who embarked as about 420.  On one dinghy there were the 29 poor souls who died of hypothermia after being rescued on Monday and 76 survivors. On two other dinghies, which were found empty, there were 210 people and the fourth, which has not yet been found, was carrying over 100 migrants.  The survivors say that there were several children in the boats but as far as we know at the time of writing, only three have been saved. All the boats were overcome by the elements on Monday afternoon and the nine survivors managed to cling to wreckage until help arrived. They apparently saw one dinghy sink and say that all aboard were lost, including three children.

A worrying detail is that two survivors have said that traffickers had told them that the sea conditions were good on Saturday.  Although the migrants knew that this was not true, they were not able to refuse to board as they were threatened with guns. 

Corriere della Sera is reporting that the death toll could reach 330.  There has been much criticism of the Triton operation, drawing  unfavourable comparisons with Mare Nostrum* and Matthew Price of the BBC has a fair analysis here. [You will need to scroll down for it.]

The Pope has called for more solidarity with migrants so that none of them will lack the help that they need and UNHCR regional director Vincent Cocherel has called this "a tragedy on an enormous scale."  Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has said that Europe needs an efficient search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean, Italian Premier Renzi has said he will be asking for European action on the matter and former Premier Enrico Letta has called, in strong terms, for Mare Nostrum to be reinstated.

Let us spare a moment, on this tragic day, to think of all those who risk their lives to help migrants, of those who must impartially take statements and hear stories of unimaginable hardship and of the people of Lampedusa who do all they can for the living and the dead who are being brought to their port.

*Mare Nostrum was a rescue mission coordinated by the Italian Navy. It was wound up last October and replaced by Triton, a rescue misssion coordinated by Frontex, the European External Borders Agency.


Lee said...

Here we's 2015...and still the world is a mess...more of a mess than ever, it seems.

It never gets any better, does it? One would think that by 2015 humans would have gotten it would hope...unfortunately, they haven't; and unfortunately, they never will.

Whispering Walls said...

Yes it was in all the papers here and I thought of you.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Sadly, it seems we nevr learn, Lee. Hi, WW. I noticed there was much more coverage, in the Brit online editions, of the Concordia verdict, though.

RNSANE said...

It just saddens me to constantly read the plight of refugees in every part of the world who lose their lives in the flight from oppression, violence, and the like. Will it ever end?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Carmen. Yes, very sad indeed. It doesn't look like ending any time soon.


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