Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As the world's headlines focus on the tragic events in Japan, another tragedy continues to unfold not so far from here:   yesterday the island of Lampedusa saw its most difficult day yet in the current migration crisis,  with 800 North African migrants arriving during the day and  22 - 24 boats carrying migrants arriving during the course of Monday night.  The Cie [Identification and Expulsion Centre] on the island is operating at well over its official capacity.

Also on Monday a boat carrying 40 migrants and heading for Sicily from the Tunisian port of Zarzis capsized shortly after leaving the port.  Only five people have been rescued.

In addition, a ship carrying 1,836 migrants, most of whom were Moroccan but some  of whom were from other North African countries, left Tripoli on Sunday afternoon intending, according to its captain, to sail for Morocco where it would repatriate its human cargo.  The captain asked for permission to dock at the Sicilian port of Augusta in order to refuel but  the Italian government, fearing that the ship and its passengers would  remain in Sicily, refused it permission to enter Italian waters although ministers considered helping it to refuel at sea.

Into all this on Monday walked French politician Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie and, since January,  leader of her country's extreme right Front National.  Mme Le Pen was accompanied by Lega Nord politician Mario Borghezio and  an attendant media circus.  The two had to be smuggled out of Lampedusa Airport via a concealed exit and their presence on the island at this sensitive time did not make the job of the Italian authorities, already working at full stretch around the clock, any easier.

Mme Le Pen had ostensibly come to assess the situation at the Cie  - although for security reasons she did not speak to any of the migrants there and made the hardly helpful suggestion that Italy, instead of allowing the migrants to land, should take food and water to them at sea.  Oh yes, and what are the poor souls supposed to do then, chère madame? Float around on the high seas forever?

Anyone with a knowledge of French politics can work out that Mme Le Pen did not visit the island out of concern for the migrants, Italy or even the EU as a whole, but to ascertain whether there was any "threat" of some of the migrants landing in France.  At a time when Italy is asking the EU for help in the situation and on the very day when the country at last secured a promise of support from the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, Mme Le Pen said that the EU is "demonstrating its powerlessness in the situation" and cannot help all the migrants because of its own unemployment rate.  The people of Sicily are well aware of the unemployment situation in the EU, Mme Le Pen, and do not need you to remind them of it.  But neither they nor I can believe that 27 countries, making a concerted effort, could not solve this crisis.

Please stay away, Mme Le Pen, and keep your abominable opinions to yourself.


Gledwood said...

I saw some really horrifying footage of a very thin obviously starving African man being washed up on an Italian beach I checked Youtube over and over and couldn't find it there (I saw it on television) but I really wanted to post it up. I think the illegal immigrants problem is worse in Europe than in America. Americans might complain more but if I had a choice (and it's not choice, it's geography, I know) I'd choose Europe, wouldn't you!

FIVE survivors? Not good.

Lucia said...

It's so sad...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Gleds. Yes, I'd choose Europe but of course, these pootr souls have no choice at all.
Hi, Lucia. Yes, it is.


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