Tuesday, July 26, 2016


"The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."
- Sir Edward Grey, British Foreign Secretary, 1914

It seems much like that now, given the events of the past ten days, and one could be forgiven for thinking that the lamps are going out all over the world, as the extreme right closes ranks and even reasonable people blame the easiest, most identifiable scapegoat, the migrant or immigrant, for their woes.

Meanwhile on the "forgotten" migrant route in the Mediterranean people continue to die. I have not seen one report on this in the past week in the British media so here are the facts:

On 20th July Médecins Sans Frontières doctors on board the SOS Mediterranee ship Aquarius went to the aid of a migrant boat in trouble off the coast of Libya. What they found was horrific: bodies were lying at the bottom of the boat in a pool of fuel and it was obvious that these people had died an awful death, crushed or suffiocated, as they had been, in the crowded and inadequate dinghy. Survivors, who had been on board with the bodies for many hours, were stretching their hands out in desperation towards the rescuers and are unsurprisingly said to be still traumatised.  Of the 22 bodies found, 20 were those of women and this tragic event is being called the strage di donne [massacre of women] in the Italian press.  In all, 209 people were saved.

On the same day, over 1,000 more migrants were saved in the Mediterranean in eight operations coordinated by the Italian Coast Guard and 1,146 migrants who had been rescued previously were brought to Palermo. Of these, 23 were pregnant women and 63 were unaccompanied minors. The next day a Spanish naval vessel brought 841 migrants and one body to Catania and a MSF ship brought 628 rescued migrants to Pozzallo. Among these were a 73-year-old man and a baby aged seven months. Does anyone really believe that a man of this age, the mother of this baby and others like them would undertake such a hazardous journey if they were not fleeing for their lives?

Rescues and arrivals continued over the weekend, when 375 migrants, including six children and a newborn baby, were brought to Messina.  Two suspected people-traffickers were arrested in Vibo Valentia [Calabria] and are thought to have been involved in bringing a migrant boat containing 16 bodies in the engine room into Italian waters. The bodies of 41 migrants were discovered on a Libyan beach, also over the weekend. These poor souls had drowned five or six days ago trying to reach Italy

UNHCR has tweeted  that 3,000 lives have been lost in the Mediterranean since January.

Now it seems to me that we either accept migration as a fact of our era, stop drawing pretty useless and difficult to prove distinctions between "economic" migrants and those seeking asylum and see that safe corridors are created for them or we accept an ever darkening world.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. "
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Let's keep those lamps lit, ladies and gentlemen.


Sabine said...

With your permission, I would like to post this on my blog linking to yours. is this ok?

James Higham said...

Yes, wonder if the raped young women would agree that the distinction is not real.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Yes, Sabine, that is fine. I am humbled. I treally don't see what the disytinction has to do with it, James.

Colette said...

Amazing post. I read it on Sabine's blog and want to tell you how moving it was to me.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you so much, Colette. I really appreciate that.


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