Friday, October 04, 2013


Italy, on the day of its patron saint, Saint Francis, is marking yesterday's tragedy at sea with an official day of mourning: On Lampedusa many businesses remained closed as a mark of respect, flags are flying at half-mast nation-wide and in schools a minute's silence for the migrants who died was observed this morning.

Searches for more bodies were temporarily suspended because of a rough sea and bad weather earlier but continue as I write. Half of the bodies that have so far been recovered are those of women. Four children aged between one and four years are also confirmed dead. Some bodies have today been transferred to the island's airport - described by one newspaper as having become "the hangar of death" - as the mortuary could no longer cope with the numbers. Coffins have been taken to Lampedusa from other parts of Sicily.

Mayor of Lampedusa Giusi Nicolini has said that today marks a new point in the migration story because this tragedy has made the "invisible situation" visible to the whole world.  Let us hope, then, that the whole world will act to stop events of this nature happening again.

Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge has said that she herself could have been on that boat and that now is not the moment for politicians to start blaming each other. Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who has seen the horrifying scenes on Lampedusa for himself, has joined calls by Corriere della Sera readers for Lampedusa to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the way in which it has shown compassion and helped the migrants who have arrived there over many years. [This idea was also put forward by the Italian government in 2011.] As the journalist Fabrizio Gatti pointed out in an article in L'Espresso this morning, the EU, an organisation notable for its failure to help in the migration crisis, has been awarded the prize. When I last looked, nearly 25,000 people [including me] had signed an online petition in support of the island's candidature.

Pope Francis, visiting Assisi this morning, called today il giorno del pianto - the day of tears.  To an audience of  people being helped by the Caritas organisation he said,

"So many of you have been despoiled by this barbaric world which does not provide work, does not help people and does not care if children die of hunger or if many families have nothing to eat and do not even have the dignity of being able to bring home some bread. This world does not care about the many people who have to flee slavery and hunger and leave their countries in search of freedom. And so often, with so much pain, we see that what they find instead is death, as happened yesterday on Lampedusa."

The Pope wants disused churches and monasteries to be converted into accommodation for refugees  - a much-needed practical suggestion in these days of sorrow.

Let us also remember, this evening, the Coast Guard and other emergency services who saved so many and continue to risk their own lives in the recovery operation.


Claude said...

Indeed a day of tears and of prayers.

James Higham said...

Half of the bodies that have so far been recovered are those of women.

Wonder why you would mention that, Welshcakes? Does it matter who it was who was killed? They're all victims.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I echo that, Claude.
Why wouldn't I mention it, James? I am relaying information here.


View My Stats