Freitag, 20. Januar 2017

Lampedusa Counts the Dead.

The sea doesn't discriminate. It knows no racism, but swallows everything we offer it. And the Lampedusans will cry, and continue to count and gather the dead. A dead who have no common denominator save for being brought down by this system: fishermen who brave the waves to be able to live, to feed their own families, and migrants searching for freedom, and to feed their families in turn. 2017 has begun just as 2016 ended, with death upon death, with the daily murder of young men, women and children. A massacre without end.

Around 3am at night on January 14th, 61 people arrived on the island, including 14 women, 4 children and two cadavers, as well as a third corpse of a young migrant who did not manage the final step of the voyage, and died on arriving at the island. The final part of the journey was made on a Coast Guard motorboat on which there was no chance to lie down, and thus those already debilitated by an inhumane exhaustion are unable to bear it and, as has already happened in other situations, dies on the island. It was, however, seen necessary to helicopter the pregnant woman to a hospital in Palermo. There is no news about the sex of the bodies which arrived, nor their nationality. They remain ever more invisible.

The landing at the Favaloro dock was particularly distressing given that the people were in a very bad condition, one of them in a state of total confusion. The presence of the Lampedusa Solidarity Forum (Forum Lampedusa Solidale) – always present, even at night – slightly alleviated the migrants' suffering with hot tea and a welcoming smile, and given the condition of almost all the migrants, even the Frontex agents, for a change, did not immediately dive in to ask questions and gather information, but lent a hand in distributing the Forum's hot drinks.

Afterwards, around 1pm, another 60 people were landed on the island, brought in by a fishing boat from Mazara del Vallo. Fortunately the solidarity between the poor, despite the murderous intentions of European policies, had evaded more death. The 60 young people who arrived were in good condition, and were also welcomed by the Lampedusa Solidarity Forum, this time at the commercial dock.

To end the day, in the late afternoon 140 more people were brought in, this time on the Kreta, a Maltese merchant navy ship; fortunately they too were OK, despite the prohibitive meteorological conditions.

At the end of a long day 250 people have arrived on the island, and 3 bodies. Unfortunately this weekend there have in fact been many deaths, far too many. With all our hypocrisy we even celebrated the Global Day for Migrants and Refugees, a day marked by the death of still more innocent victims. Another massacre took place in the Mediterranean Sea when a large boat went down off the Libyan coasts. At the time of writing only eight bodies have been recovered, and four survivors, who have said that there were 190 people on board, swallowed up by the sea.

More figures to put into our calendar, so that we can enact another commemoration and clean our consciences, and to roll out the red carpet for another politician.

Thus the Lampedusa Hotspot, at Contrada Imbriacola, is yet again full. There were around 80 people there, but with the 260 arrivals the number is now around 350, including minors, men and women. The managing body is currently passing the mantle (probably from the beginning of February) to the Red Cross in Rome along with the Misericordie di Firenze (the workers remain the same, but the winners of the contract will change). 

The three victims will probably not be buried on Lampedusa (perhaps they will be transferred to Agrigento?), who go to join the fisherman who died at sea. The Lampedusans will cry in the same way, because they have always taught us how to welcome the dead, in a town in perennial mourning, forgotten by everyone, the system winning out once again.

Why does it win with such ease? 

Probably because the system of consumption won in the moment in which we abandoned the struggle for the rights of everyone, and confined ourselves to each of us looking after their own standard of living, when we abandoned the idea of freedom and preferred to be “controlled” by politicos and to look after our own backyard. We are slaves to a system which has anaesthetised us.

Alberto Biondo

Borderline Sicilia

Project "OpenEurope" - Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude