Wednesday, July 09, 2014

SUMMER TIDES - 5

The saddest news I have to report tonight is that, when the migrant boat involved in last week's tragedy was finally brought to Pozzallo, 45, not 27 or 30, bodies were found, jammed into the hold.  Four men have beern arrested by Sicilian police on suspicion of people trafficking.  Last Wednesday the front page of La Sicilia carried the headline "Mare Mortum".

On Sunday night around 100 migrants, including women and children, arrived on Ispica beach. It was the usual story: an inadequate boat carrying them had managed to elude patrols, brought them within sight of the beach, forced them into the water and then made a fast getaway.  Let us hope that no one drowned.

It is estimated that 2,600 migrants were saved by the Italian Navy and other Mare Nostrum operatives over the weekend. Premier Renzi has again said that the operation must continue but with EU support:

"It is not possible, in 2014, to let a ship full of children sink because we don't know whose jurisdiction it is in.  We save them."

The week has seen several protests in Sicily by both residents and migrants: The inhabitants of Siculiana [Agrigento] protested against the sheer numbers of migrants arriving in their small town but things seem to have calmed down for the moment now that the Mayor has had a meeting with Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who listened to her concerns. Mr Alfano promised that the number of arrivals in the town would be carefully regulated and gave assurances regarding public health. He also said that the EU at last appears to be realising that Italy, and especially Sicily, cannot take sole responsibility for the migrants after they have been rescued.

Yesterday in Caltagirone, where 110 unaccompanied migrant minors have been living in overcrowded and quite insanitary conditions, the situation exploded. The young migrants destroyed furniture and broke glass in their centre, then set up street blocks nearby. Who can blame them? They say they cannot maintain personal hygiene in these conditions, that they do not have enough drinking water [temperatures in Sicily are reaching 40 C now ] and that their meals are served cold. They also say they do not have enough clothing and are not given any spending money - to which, as asylum seekers, they are entitled - or phone cards. They only want to be listened to but at the moment have no access to anyone who might understand their problems.

As I write, Sicily waits: a Libyan politician said last week that at least 3 million migrants are preparing to leave Libya in an attempt to reach Italian shores during the summer.

3 comments:

Anneka Lott said...

Such a Sad story - thanks for sharing! I Really hope the EU offer the support Italy has needed in this matter

Winchester whisperer said...

There's an article about it in this week's Economist. They think the Mare Nostrum policy should be scrapped and they should revert to the old idea of policing the coastlines to prevent the boats from leaving. I think that could be done with drones.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anneka. Yes, very sad. I hope so, too but no one here is counting on it! Hi, WW. I'll look for the article. I think people would still find a way to leave and it might be even worse then. Italy cannot risk another tragedy like the October one on its shores.

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