Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






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Out of Palermo

Hundreds of migrants from three rescue operations disembark at Trapani yesterday

September 17, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

Yesterday 371 rescued migrants arrived at Trapani aboard the rescue ship Aquarius, according to the online newspaper, Trapani Oggi. They were picked up in international waters in three different operations off the coast of Libya. A portion of them had been transferred from another rescue ship, the Vos Hestia, run by the NGO Save the Children.
Arriving migrants included 304 men, 67 women, of whom 40 were single and and five were pregnant.German ship "SOS Mediterranee", on which Doctors Without Borders are present, were 54 unaccompanied minors and a disabled person.

The migrants came from Cameroon, the Gambia, Ivory Coast, Guinea Conakri, Senegal, Nigeria and other subsaharan countries, but also from Egypt, Morocco, Libya and Syria. They were taken to the immigration "hotspot" of Milo to be identified and photographed before being transferred to "welcome centers" for asylum seekers. (more…)

Immigrants' horror stories of torture and murder in Libya

September 15, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

I meant to post this a while ago but got distracted. This is my translation of a story that appeared in MeridioNews in late August.

" The prison guards kill people and throw them in a pit. They cover the pit only when it is full of bodies." This is the story of a migrant rescued last Sunday by the ship Aquarius of the international NGO organization SOS Mediterranee. Describing the tortures suffered by those waiting to leave for Europe was a man from Cameroon in his twenties. " All the people you see here," he said indicating the other survivors "went through many trials, they are dead inside for a long time now, even their families must believe they are dead. Today is like a resurrection."

Perpetrators of the violence, according to survivor accounts, would be the Libyan guards. "The Libyans beat us the whole time, for no reason. They put us in prison for no reason," he continued, adding that he witnessed a scene in which a prisoner was hung by his feet and beaten "as if he were a ball."
On the lines of these stories, the NGO launches the same old appeal to the European Union so that it may not reduce its own responsibility in the Mediterranean.

The wealthy illegal migrants arrive by yacht.

September 14, 2017

Tags: rich, migrants, wealthy, yacht, crossing, illegal, privilege

From The Guardian:
Only the wealthiest migrants and refugees could afford to pay for a voyage on the beautiful 10-metre yacht that sailed under a Ukrainian flag.

Today that sailboat is under police guard along with a dozen other luxury vessels impounded at the Sicilian port of Augusta. Its former skipper, Andrej, has recentlybeen released from prison after serving a one-year sentence for aiding illegal immigration.

Andrej, 35, a Ukrainian, was convicted for transporting 30 migrants from Turkey to Sicily, landing on a small beach in the province of Syracuse. Each passenger paid more than €8,000 for the crossing.

Killer migrant path to sicily

September 12, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

“The central Mediterranean route, ending at Lampedusa or the main island of Sicily, accounts only for about a quarter of almost 1.5 million people who have arrived since 2014 on all routes, but for 88% of all migrant deaths in the Mediterranean,” according to a report released today.

Gangi covered in hail, Palermo, Catania inundated

September 11, 2017

Tags: hail, gangi, palermo, Catania, flooded

The Cassaro, aka Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Palermo's oldest and grandest boulevard, was a river today, and the Madonie mountain town of Gangi had to contend with a thick layer of hailstones. Really odd weather.

Human suffering in Libya detention camps

September 7, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning, MSF, doctors without borders

A friend of mine -- Ester Russo, we were housemates in Palermo -- is now a psychologist for arriving immigrants with MSF, Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) in Trapani, Sicily. She hears the horror stories of violence, rape, beatings, starvation, racism and murder in Libyan refugee camps. She alerted me to the following report.

"For more than a year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been providing medical care to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants held inside Tripoli detention centres in conditions that are neither humane nor dignified.

Detainees are stripped of any human dignity, suffer ill-treatment and lack access to medical care. Detention is causing harm and unnecessary suffering. It is directly linked to the majority of the physical and mental health problems for which detainees require medical attention. People are held arbitrarily with no way to challenge the legality of their detention, virtually no access to consular services or to the outside world.

With no rule of law in Libya, the detention system is harmful and exploitative. There is a disturbing lack of oversight and regulation. With no formal registration or proper record-keeping in place, once people are inside a detention centre there is no way to track what happens to them. Some people are held for prolonged periods of time; others are transferred between different detention centres, moved to undisclosed locations or disappear overnight.

MSF witnesses on a daily basis how much unnecessary harm is being caused by detaining people in these conditions. There is only so much medical teams can do to ease the suffering.

MSF calls for an end to the arbitrary detention of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Libya. "

Italian minister defends means to 87 percent drop in immigrant arrivals

September 7, 2017

Tags: mrco minniti, immigration, reduction, means

From today's The Guardian:
"There have been rumours of deals struck in the desert to induce tribes and militia to end the business of human trafficking. It is claimed his methods are fragile, and leave unresolved the fate of the tens of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya in inhumane detention camps unable to reach Italy and unwilling to return to their country of origin on the other side of the Sahara desert."

First clandestine migrants disembark during the night at Lipari

September 6, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

Now that accords between the governments of Italy and Libya have forced most NGO migrant rescue ships out of the Strait of Sicily, traffickers are back at work bringing migrants to Sicily. The first debarkation in the Eolian islands happened overnight. Some forty Iraqis were found at Grotticella, a beach on the island of Lipari reachable only by boat. Fishermen up early noticed the men, women and children and called island emergency personnel who picked them up and brought them to a first aid station. Authorities are looking for the vessel that dropped them there.

moas suspends rescue operation in Mediterranean

September 5, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning, MOAS

THe NGO non profit MOAS has suspended rescue operations of migrants in the Mediterranean and will move to south east Asia to rescue migrants there.
MOAS was founded in 2014 to reduce the loss of lives along the migration path between Africa and Europe. In the following three years MOAS rescued more than 40,000 people including children, women and men who were victims of violence, poverty and persecution.
MOAS co-founder Regina Catrambone explained to supporters: "At present, there are too many questions without an answer, and too many doubts about those trapped or forced back to Libya.

"The horrific tales of those who survive depict a nightmare of abuse, violence, torture, kidnapping and extortion.

"MOAS does not want to become part of a scenario where no one pays attention to the people who deserve protection, instead only focusing on preventing them from arriving on European shores with no consideration of their fate when trapped on the other side of the sea."

The rescue ship will now sail to the Bay of Bengal between the borders of Myanmar and Bangladesh to save the fleeing Rohingya people. The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim ethnic minority who have faced persecution in Myanmar. Many of those who have fled describe troops and Buddhist mobs burning their villages and attacking civilians in the province in Rakhine.

The United Nations has described them as the most persecuted people on earth, with Pope Francis appealing for an end to violence on 27 August.

Annual climb to Santa Rosalia's cave on Monte Pellegrino

September 4, 2017

Tags: l'acchianata, santa rosalia, patron saint, palermo, sicily, monte pellegrini, faithful, annual, ritual

L'acchianata, the annual ritual of walking together up the twisting paths on the flanks of Monte Pellegrino to the sanctuary where Saint Rosalia's bones were found, according to tradition, is an annual ritual for the people of Palermo. Click on the caption to see Igor Petyx's series of beautiful photos of this year's event.

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