Donnerstag, 15. November 2012

Open letter from the Mayor of Lampedusa to the European Union

"I am the new Mayor of the islands of Lampedusa and Linosa.
I was elected in May, and from then until the 3rd November, 21 drowned bodies of people who were trying to reach Lampedusa have been delivered to me. This, for me, is something intolerable. Lampedusa now bears an enormous burden of pain. We have had to go through the Prefecture to ask other boroughs for help in order to provide the last 11 corpses with a dignified burial as we have no more sites available. I know there will be others that we will bury, but I have one question which I must address to everyone: just how large exactly does the cemetery on my island need to be?

I am not able to understand how such a tragedy can be considered normal. Last Saturday the bodies of 8 young women and two boys aged 11 and 13 were recovered from the sea. They were on a journey that was meant to be the beginning of a new life.  How is it possible that the fact that 11 people can just die together like that, cease to have an impact on daily life? 76 people were rescued but there were 115 people altogether, the number of deaths is always a much higher number than what the sea actually returns to us.

I am full of indignation about the acclimatization that seems to have contaminated everyone. I am scandalised by Europe's silence, which can only be exacerbated by the fact it has just recently been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace yet continues to stay silent over a tragedy that is now reaching figures more commonly associated with war. I am becoming more and more convinced that European policy on immigration sees this toll of human lives as a means to moderate the flow, if not as an actual deterrent. If the journey by boat is the only possibility of hope that these people have, I believe that Europe should be ashamed and disgraced by the deaths which occur at sea.

In all of this extremely sad page of history that we are writing together, the only reason for any pride is provided by the men of the Italian State who save lives 140 miles from Lampedusa. This is what happened last Saturday, even though those who were only 30 miles away from the scene of the disaster and who should have gone immediately with the fast patrol ships that our previous government gave to Gaddafi, ignored the request for help. The patrol boats, nonetheless, work very well when given orders to kidnap our fishing boats, even when they are fishing outside Lybian territorial waters.

Everyone has to realise that it is Lampedusa, and its inhabitants, with the structures providing rescue and reception, which give human dignity to these people, and who also give dignity to our country and Europe as a whole. So, if these deaths remain solely Lampedusa's responsibility, I would like to receive a telegram of condolence for every drowned body we receive- as if it had white skin, as if it were one of our own children who had drowned whilst on holiday."
Giusi Nicolini