Sunday, July 22, 2007


Two boats carrying clandestini [illegal would-be immigrants] were wrecked off Lampedusa on Thursday. The Italian Coastguard mounted a rescue operation, as it always does, and there are 36 survivors from the two boats. 5 bodies were found, including that of a child and 11 people are unaccounted for. Meanwhile a boatload of 259 clandestini made it to Lampedusa. Of these 16 were women, one of whom was heavily pregnant. On Wednesday a Tunisian fishing vessel offered to rescue some clandestini from a dinghy and there are conflicting reports about what happened: according to this, there were no threats but this report suggests the clandestini may have armed themselves with knives, so fearful were they of being taken back to their point of departure.

On Thursday there were 690 people in the "welcome" centre on Lampedusa, a structure built to accommodate 190. Many have since been airlifted out [presumably to similar centres elsewhere] but according to La Sicilia 390 clandestini were still there yesterday.

The video clip I'm going to post next [sorry, James!] shows how desperate the situation is and also, I think, the sharp contrast between the "Lampedusa of the tourists" and that which the clandestini encounter. The difficult and distressing situation which the authorities, and sometimes passing fishermen, find themselves in is also highlighted.

My own opinion? I've posted it many times. We in the West cannot imagine the misery and poverty which these people are trying to escape. I have taught some of them in Britain and know something of the tragedies they have endured. But with the best will in the world, no country can take them all in. So our only hope, it seems to me, is to act on world poverty before it is too late and by too late I mean a world in which poverty has led to many more embracing extremist causes than those doing so even now. [And no, I am not naive, nor am I trying to excuse the crimes perpetrated in the name of poverty or even freedom.: "Ô liberté", said Mme Roland on the guillotine, "que de crimes on commet en ton nom!" I think we might now substitute , for "liberté", "pauvreté" or even "Dieu" - but the latter has been the case throughout the centuries.]


Liz Hinds said...

I agree with you, Welshcakes, that circumstances, even if not immediately life-threatening, must be horrendous to make the immigrants do what they do, and that the root cause has to be resolved.

Anonymous said...

It is tragic, but what have I done to be responsible for their condition. Did I take bread from their mouths? No. Did I take their jobs from them? No. Should I give them my money so that they have a better life? Should I give them my house and bed to sleep in?

I am really sorry for the situation they are in, but I owe them nothing. I feel for them, but there is nothing I can give. Send them back. I'm sorry.

jmb said...

Very distressing this whole thing, I don't know what the answer is.

pommygranate said...

Liz - good luck searching for those mysterious root causes.

Welshcakes - the situation is tragic but inevitable. People born into lives of poverty will understandably seek to leave their surroundings and search for a better life.

Their get-up-and-go attitude often makes these people desirable additions to our population.

But talk of finding a solution is not really relevant.

firstly, who are we to tell an African country how to run their affairs (isnt this the worst kind of racist paternalism?) and secondly, we just have to accept that its an inevitable flow of people across open borders.

It must be heartbreaking watching these people come ashore, but there is no grand solution for them.

Courtney Hamilton said...

Europe's wealthiest countries certainly have a problem if they can't cope with even a few thousand economic clandestini.

No ones asking Steve g if clandestini can stay around his house - all these people want is the freedom to come here to the West.

We have free-markets and open markets for money in the West - but when it comes to human beings, it appears that Steve G's backward and authoritarian solutions is all the West can think of - how imaginative.

BTW. Ohhhh, look at you with your new design blog - very nice indeed Welshcakes!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hamilton,
My point in my comment is that I, as an individual, have nothing to offer in solving this problem. It is not a problem unique to Italy. There are far more than a few thousand unfortunate individuals trying to leave the poverty of their home countries everyday. This happens in Asia, South, and Central America, etc. My opinion is just that, mine. I don’t represent how the WEST, as you call it, responds and replies. As I said, I'm sorry for the situation they are in.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. Yes, unimaginable circumstances. Steve, I understand your argument. I, too, did none of these things but I might have elected a government that did. Also the former colonial powers created some of the mess the world is in today. Hi, jmb. Nor do I. Pommy, I agree that people will always search for a better life and that some of these people havea lot to offer the west. I would be the last person to tell an African nation how to run itself. I just find the situation, as you say, heartbreaking, especially when I read of families being separated along the way or of people dying in their attempt to reach Europe. Courtney, I see Steve has answered your point so I will say only that Italy and the Canaries cannot cope with the RATE at which this is happening. I'm not saying we should let none of them in. I'm glad you like my new blog look.

Crushed said...

I agree. We are asking the wrong question, which isn't 'How do we stop them?', but 'Why do they come?'

Why do want to live as an expolited hated underclass here, rather than stay in the land of their birth?
And what can we do to make their homelands places we wouldn't want to flee from, where the boot on the other foot.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Crushed, you have said it all. Enforced emigration [enforced because your life is unbearable] is always a tragedy.

pommygranate said...


I think its obvious why they come - jobs and prosperity.

To say that they will all end up as impoverished underclass is just plain wrong. Britain is full of successful immigrants.

What can we do to make their homelands better?

well, given the experience of our meddling in Iraq, i would say (sadly) very little indeed.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

True, we have been a disaster in Iraq, Pommy. But I think we have to do something - I don't know what, though.


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