Wednesday, December 11, 2013


It may be the festive season for much of the world but that does not mean that the "boatloads of sorrow", containing desperate migrants, have stopped arriving on Sicily's shores. In the past few days, in fact, there has been a marked increase in the number of boats making these dangerous journeys because of temporarily calmer seas.

In the early hours of yesterday Italian naval and Coast Guard vessels saved 1,233 migrants whose boats had got into trouble to the south of Lampedusa. Among these were 118 women, 16 of whom were pregnant, and 65 children. An initial check carried out on board the rescue vessels indicated that the migrants were from Eritrea, Syria, Senegal, Egypt, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Gambia, Guinea, Ghana, Mali and Libya. Almost all said they had wanted to reach Italy in order to study, work or to escape war.

The naval ship the San Marco brought 550 of the migrants to safety in the port of Augusta and the patrol ship the Foscari took 229 poor souls on board and then had to attend another rescue operation which was a difficult one because some of the migrants involved were in poor conditions of health.

Since the launch of Operazione Mare Nostrum, a military-humanitarian mission to avoid further migrant tragedies in the Mediterranean, 5,000 migrants have been saved in the Strait of Sicily and more than 3,000 have been brought to safety on board Italian naval ships.

Running in tandem with Operazione Mare Nostrum is another military initiative, Operazione Strade Sicure Sicilia Occidentale [Safe Streets in Western Sicily] in which army personnel are patrolling the areas around the reception centre and confiscated migrant boats on Lampedusa in an effort to keep both migrants and the citizens of the island safe. On the night of 9th - 10th December Moroccan and Eritrean cultural mediators working with this team managed to calm 50 frightened women and 13 traumatised children who had disembarked from a migrant boat.

May God keep all migrants, and those who rescue and help them, safe this Christmas.


Rosaria Williams said...

May they find new peace.

Laura said...

Thank you for your on-going reporting on these lives. The desperation is so tragic.

Claude said...

Amen to your prayer.

Betty said...

That is so sad. Will they all stay in Sicily or will they be relocated?

I saw Mt. Etna on the news last week. They said it had been erupting again.

James Higham said...

Do they celebrate Christmas?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I echo that, Rosaria. Hi, Laurs. Yes, an absolute tragedy. Thank you, Claude. Hi, Betty. They are usually sent to other centres in Italy and decisions regarding their future are made in these. Some are sent back, some are allowed to remain in Italy and some are told they are free to travel onwards to other countries in Europe. Yes, Etna has been at it again! Well, Jmaes, I'm assuming that some do and some do not, as they are not all of one religion. I don't think it matters - I just want them to be safe.


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