Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MORE DEATHS AT SEA

14 bodies of clandestini [would-be illegal immigrants] were spotted 55 miles south-west of Lampedusa, in Maltese waters, early today. So far 6 have been recovered. There was no sign of a boat anywhere near the bodies.



Meanwhile, a new "welcome" [read "detention"] centre has opened on Lampedusa. Its director has come up with the idea of giving names to the poor souls who die on their way to Sicily's shores. Even if, to give it the benefit of the doubt, this initiative has been undertaken with the best of motives, it seems to me to be fraught with as yet unconsidered difficulties: true, the majority of those so tragically drowned are going to be Muslims; but there could also be, among them, some Christians, such as the women I taught back in Cardiff who had fled from religious persecution in certain countries. So what sort of names are to be chosen?



The unknown soldiers killed in both World Wars were buried with crosses simply stating , "A British / US / Australian / NZ / German / Italian soldier" [apologies for nationalities I have left out - it was not intentionally done] and there is a dignity in that. These people were not soldiers but is there no dignity at all in trying, in the most dangerous and desperate way imaginable, to make your life just a little better? This, as far as we know, was their only "crime".

13 comments:

Lee said...

It's very sad. Until you've been writing about these "boat people", I didn't know the situation was so bad up your way.

tooth fairy said...

In the United States the media calls those trying to cross from Mexico into the states (in a desperate search for a better life) "illegal aliens" rather than "illegal people". That "alien" word choice keeps us from having to identify with them as one human being to another. Hmmm...

jmb said...

Another sad tale to report about this clandestini business.

I don't see the benefit of giving these dead people made up names. It just confuses things no end. As you have so rightly pointed out, it was good enough for our soldiers to be nameless and we accord them respect.
Not a good idea in my opinion.
regards
jmb

Shirl said...

How odd? Would it not be better to have an initiative to speed up immigrant applications and try to find out exactly what people are fleeing from? For the sadly misfortunate who die on the way to Italy's shores, perhaps 'Known and loved at home: honoured here'.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee. Yes, so sad... I keep wondering about their families, who will never know what happened. Hi, TF. That's a very interesting linguistic distinction. We are in agreement, jmb. Hi, Shirl. i agree. What you suggest is appropriate and dignified. The Italian authorities do give them a dignified funeral.

Lizzie said...

WCL - just as an addition to your own points, I spent a month on Gozo a couple of winters ago & there were many boat people arriving in Malta then, many of course, perishing en route, but the Maltese government had really no idea what to do with them. All were apparently aiming for Italy & some had relatives there, but they could neither be sent back nor could be helped with a passage to Italy. Short term transit camps were made available to them. I do not know if anything has subsequently changed there.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lizzie. Thanks for adding that. From what I read and see, things haven't changed with regard to the situation in Malta: the authorities are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of arrivals or attempted arrivals and they have asked for help from the rest of the EU.

mutleythedog said...

Its terrible isn't it? One can't imagine what they think they are doing or what they are fleeing from... sorry for no silly remark, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible...

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

I like Tooth fairy's point.

It sums up the prevailing attitude.

Graf von Straf Hindenburg said...

Oh, the crime of having nothing.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I'm glad you didn't this time, Mutley and I agree with you. Yes, it's a good point, Crushed. James, yes, and that is so sad.

Ruthie said...

Tooth fairy makes an excellent point. It is easy to hold them at arm's length rather than to sympathize with their desperation and their suffering.

It seems odd, too, to "give them names"-- after all, they HAVE names, and families, and lives that they led before they died. They're not like dead deer or rabbits.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Totally agree, Ruthie.

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