Thursday, June 06, 2013


The sea at Pozzallo

The Mediterranean - a playground for some, but increasingly, in these times, a sea of sadness for so many. As the Sicilian summer brings clear, moonlit nights with open-air dining, dances, concerts and parties, so it also brings more of what I have come to call, in my eight years here, the "boatloads of sorrow" - that is, inadequate, overcrowded boats of would-be migrants willing to risk everything in order to flee the unimaginable and to seek a better life.

In the early hours of Tuesday one such boat ran into trouble in the Sicilian Channel and was saved because, at 4.30 am., one of the passengers managed to contact the leader of Turin's Egyptian community by satellite phone. Help was summoned and at 6.30 am Italian Coastguard boats managed to reach the migrant vessel.  On board were 119 migrants, including five women and 56 minors. All are thought to be Egyptian. The craft was sinking due to the length of the journey and the sheer numbers on board, some of whom had to be brought to Modica for hospital treatment.

A 26-year-old Egyptian man, whom police found after questioning the migrants, has been arrested on suspicion of people-trafficking.

A new law which aims at protecting the human rights of migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, is before the Sicilian Regional Assembly at the moment.  Among its provisions are measures to ensure migrants' rights to health cover, education, help with housing and cultural integration. Barriers which prevent migrants from working in the voluntary sector would be lifted and there would be a job creation scheme. Anti-discrimination measures are also envisaged. 

If Sicily can pull this off, it would be a shining example to other regions affected by the migration crisis.


Lee said...

There are no easy answers or easy fixes to the refugee problems, unfortunately.

We have similar problems here by the boatload! Pun intended.

The thousands of refugees on the move throughout the world are really difficult to police, particularly when shady people-smugglers/traffickers come into play. All they are concerned with is the money...not the people.

We have Indonesia just to the north of us, and that's where the problem begins for us here in Australia. Refugees are lured and tricked by unscrupulous traffickers.

There are so many angles to consider; and so many problems to be solved.

A country has the right to protect its own borders; to know for certain who is being allowed into their country; what the true affiliations of the "refugees" are; that those seeking asylum are true refugees; that all who want to enter another country are genuinely looking for sanctuary; that they are not harboring some sordid, hidden agenda.

And we, who have never experienced what some countries and their people have had to endure, really don't know what these poor souls have had to deal with; and, one would hope never to be in a similar situation. It's like the saying - "until you walk in the shoes of another"....

The desperation of these people, traversing wild, unknown oceans and seas in overcrowded boats that aren't even decent enough to carry animals is difficult for the "normal" person to comprehend.

Wouldn't it just be amazing if everyone on this planet lived in peace and harmony? may call me a dreamer!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Pat ,, I have just been reading Lee's comments. I know this is all very very sad, but could Sicily cope with more and more people coming to the country ,, we have massive problems here as you know .. NOT saying they should not be helped but how is the best way ,, I do not know the answers , but one thing I do know , is that Italy are having a huge problems with theft etc by Africans going there and we the Romanians and others ,, I do not know the answers , Take care Anne x Hope all is good with you.

Rosaria Williams said...

Yes! And just by proposing such measures Sicily is showing the world how to be human. Thanks for sharing this with the world,Pat.

Liz Hinds said...

In several of the Montalbano episodes/books reference is made to this dreadful trafficking. So very sad and how desperate must those people be?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. I agree with you that there are no easy answers and of course countries have the right to protect their borders and own citizens. Also agree about the fdesperation of these "boat people." Yes, if only we could have that world of peace... Hi, Anne. It's a massive problem but maybe someone needs to look at it from a different angle, which is what I believe the politician introducing this bill is trying to do. Whatever peoblems we have in Britain, and despite recent outrages, it is, on the whole, a successful multicultural society and I believe much of that is because we do give due credit to the positive contributions that immigrants can make. In Italy, someone with a new vision is needed. As for crime, it is carried out by individuals of all backgrounds in all countries.
Hi, Rosaria. I hope this bill is passed because it could be revolutionary in the best of ways. Hi, Liz. I agree.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"measures to ensure migrants' rights to health cover, education, help with housing and cultural integration"

Praiseworthy of course, on the human level.

But this cannot go on. We can't feed, house, and provide medical care for, the whole of Africa.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, WY. IT's a very difficul question but it's not the whole of Africa. Isn't Ghana the fastest growing economy now? I do think there is some merit to the idea of looking at the problem in a different way.


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