Monday, June 23, 2014


In reporting what has become an almost daily toll of migrant deaths at sea, I am reminded of this quote from Camus in La Peste:

"Mais qu'est-ce que cent millions de morts?" ["What are 100 million deaths?"]

What he meant, I believe, was that in war, epidemic and other such catastrophes the deaths become so many that we stop being able to imagine their meaning.

In the early hours of yesterday 104 migrants, all male, were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard from a dinghy about 54 miles off Lampedusa. Another 302 migrants were rescued in two separate operations in the Sicilian Channel and have been taken to the Port of Augusta. On board the rescue ship there was also a body, already decomposing, which had been found off the Maltese coast. This poor soul probably lost his or her life on one of the many other migrant boats that had got into trouble in the past few weeks.  Today four alleged people traffickers have been arrested by Italian police in connection with this death.

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, visiting Pozzallo last week, promised help to Sicily's prefects and mayors in dealing with the migrants and said that a task force on the implications for public health will be set up. He also said, rightly, that all of Europe should recognise the sterling work being done by Italy in saving migrant lives.

Matteo Salvini of the Lega Nord, however, wants Operazione Mare Nostrum stopped immediately and says the money spent on it should be diverted to Africa to stop migrants leaving in the first place. This sounds eminently reasonable until you start to wonder exactly how this could be done and how, in certain unstable states, one could be sure of where the funds would be directed and how they would be used.

On 20th June, World Refugee Day, Laura Boldrini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, said in Siracusa, on board the naval ship the San Giorgio, which has been involved in many rescue operations, that Mare Nostrum operatives should be proud because nothing is more important than saving lives. She also said that other EU states are taking in refugees but are not helping in rescuing people at sea. She thanked Sicilians and their local councils for the work they are doing, proving, she added, that

"Italy is a great country which has not allowed itself to be devoured by selfishness in the face of the economic crisis."


Trubes said...

This is so awful Pat, we all raise our arms in horror, but what can we really do?
My City is teeming with the women wearing burkas, I don't mind as long as they have homes for their little children,, and I do hope the husbands are suitably employed. also I hope they don't use the Burka for other reasons

Jenny Woolf said...

Really dreadful to read this constant litany of deaths of these poor people. It really is barely reported over here.

Lee said...

And, sadly, there are no signs anything will change...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, it's very sad, Trubes. Hi, Jenny. It seems to me that only when there is a large-scale tragedy, as in October, does the rest of the world notice. Sad indeed, Lee.

Whispering Walls said...

Do you think drones could be used to prevent the boats from leaving Africa?

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I hope not, WW.


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