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.






Tags

Out of Palermo

Rescue ship Aquarius lands 606 shipwrecked immigrants at palermo, "city of welcome."

October 13, 2017

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

From Palermo Today:
Of the 606 migrants, 241 were children, 120 of those children came unaccompanied.
The shipwrecked migrants were rescued in seven operations in less than 36 hours. On board the Franco-Italian-German rescue ship were 11 pregnant women, two of whom were in their ninth month. There was also a week-old infant.
"The extremely high numbers of minors," said Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando, "is the confirmation of a human drama without pause and without Europe feeling shame. Today we found ourselves before a dramatic choice made by members of the families of these minors put in the hands of the merchants of death with the hope of getting them to Europe, which, however, continues to ignore this drama, staining themselves with criminal behavior that produces and feeds criminal organizations. We here in Palermo are quite different from all that and the city with its organization and its institutions make it the "Capital of Welcome."

Ship Aquarius rescues 339 people in 24 hours

October 11, 2017

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



Translation:
🔴 rescue
339 people rescued at sea in the last 24 hours are now safe on the Aquarius.
The teams from SOS MEDITERRANEE France intervened on 3 operations Tuesday (2 rescues and a transfer to another ship in the night) and on a first rescue this Wednesday morning.
All rescue operations on Tuesday and Wednesday were coordinated by the MRCC of Rome, which asked the Aquarius to move to other vessels in difficulty identified in international waters off Libya.
The Humanitarian Emergency continues in the Mediterranean!
#TogetherForRescue

Prudence being taken out of action

October 7, 2017

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

As a consequence of a drop in the number of boats reaching international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, MSF has decided to reduce its activities at sea and to end search and rescue operations of its boat Prudence. MSF will continue its presence in the Central Mediterranean with the ship Aquarius, run in coordination (more…)

Italy-libya pact unraveling, immigrant numbers soar

October 3, 2017

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

From The Guardian
Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

Tuesday 3 October 2017 00.00 EDT

A key pillar of the Italian government’s effort to stem the politically toxic issue of people crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to southern Italy is in danger of collapse as a result of a bloody power struggle in the key Libyan port of < (more…)

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.

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.

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. "

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.

Norwegian Ship Docks at Catania with 49 cadavers and surviving migrants

August 17, 2017

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

From La Repubblica today:
The bodies of 49 immigrants asphyxiated by diesel fumes in the hold of a trafficker's fishing boat were lifted ashore by a crane at the port of Catania today. The ones who pay the least for their passage, usually the women, are relegated to the airless, windowless hold, locked in, thesurest to die if the vessel sinks, with only diesel fumes to breathe. The survivors numbered 312, of whom 45 were women and three minor children.
They arrived on the Norwegian ship Siem Pilot.

Three NGO's call off rescues due to Libyan aggression

August 16, 2017

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

From The Guardian:
Three NGOs have suspended migrant rescues in the Mediterranean because of the increasingly hostile stance of the Libyan authorities and coastguard.

Save the Children and Germany’s Sea Eye have joined Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) in halting operations because they feel their crews can no longer work safely in (more…)

2 more ngo's suspend migrant rescues at sea

August 14, 2017

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

From La Repubblica:
ROME -- After Doctors Without Borders suspended migrant rescues at sea, the German NGO Sea Eye and the NGO Save The Children have also suspended rescues in the Mediterranean Sea. This is because the Libyan government instituted a no go zone "limiting access of NGOs to international waters" and to "securityrisk" owing to threats by the Libyan coast guard."
The German NGO repeats the accusation of Doctors Without Borders: " We find ourselves forced into this decision because of the changed security situationin the Mediterranean," "we can no longer continue our work, we cannot guarantee the safety of the crews," "the expansion of Libya's territorial waters end the threats against NGOs leave us no other choice" one reads in a series of tweets....

Stefano Argenziano, Doctors Without Borders coordinator for migration projects, said, "The Libyans can now do what they want with the support of Europe and Italy. ""We of Doctors Without Borders do not want to be co-opted in this illegal, perverse and inhumane machine. " "The code of conduct is just a distraction, it has no basis in law. The ones respecting the law are us, as we have always done. The illegal things, instead, are the EU's agreements with Libya,which boost the proliferation of traffickers and mafia. Migrant crises are resolved only with the reasonable management of migrant flow. We will again take up our activities at sea only when
the rule of law and international rights return.




Doctors without borders temporarily suspends rescues of migrants at sea

August 12, 2017

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

From the Guardian:
Doctors Without Borders has said that it is temporarily suspending the activity of its rescue ship owing to alleged threats from Libya. The Libyan coastguard has increasingly become more aggressive in patrolling the waters off its coasts where human traffickers launch boats crowded with migrants desperate to reach Europe.

The humanitarian group said the rescue coordination centre operated by Italy’s coastguard had informed it on Friday that the Libyan threats pose a security risk. The group added that Libyan authorities declared their own rescue area, extending into international waters, the same day.

the boats left behind

August 11, 2017

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

Most of the immigrants arrive in Sicily from north Africa on flimsy rubber rafts. A few lucky ones arrive on 20-foot boats. They aim to land at night on nature reserves or tiny, unknown beaches. They escape, unseen. Many run to Palermo. They leave their old boats behind rocking in the waves.

8 cadavers on a rubber raft

August 1, 2017

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

Eight corpses were recovered from aboard a rubber raft full of migrants coming from Libya and headed towards Italy during a rescue operation.
From La Repubblica:
Five hundred migrants were rescued at sea in four operations today, according to the Italian Coast Guard.

anti-immigrant ship hassled in Cyprus

July 28, 2017

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

The crew of a ship hired by a European far-right movement aiming to disrupt migrant rescues in the Mediterranean have reportedly been deported from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus for alleged people-smuggling after 21 south Asians were found onboard.
The crew of the C-Star were taken off the vessel at the port of Famagusta, and appeared in court on Thursday, alongside the ship’s Swiss owner.
They were accused of preparing and circulating false documents, but were later released for lack of evidence.

Sit in at Catania port to protest racist group trying to disrupt rescues of migrants at sea

July 22, 2017

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

From La Repubblica this morning:
The anti-racist non profit associations of Sicily are on the brink of "war." Today at Catania's port they protested against the idea of letting the ship C-Star dock there. The C Star is a ship rented by by the extreme right group Generazione Identitaria,
( Identity Generation), an extreme right multinational group formed in 2012 and made up of French, Italian and German members. Alfonso Di Stefano, representative of the Catania Anti-racist Network, said, " We are expressing our unconditional solidarity with the precious work that the humanitarian ships do and we will stand vigil in the port until the docking of the C-Star does not happen here nor anywhere in Sicily. We know that up until yesterday evening it was blocked in the port of Suez. It seems that it is going to leave or it has already left and it will take from five to six days to arrive here.
The C Star intends to lend support to the Libyan Coast Guard in its operations in which they stop vessels loaded with migrants and turn them back to Libya.
At the sit-in at the Catania port were thirty representatives of the non- profits that comprise the Network, who showed banners with the saying: "No more shipwrecks. The right to European refuge in order not to die," and Freedom, not Frontex," and " The right to asylum and humanitarian corridors."

Sicilian mayor moves to block far-right plan to disrupt migrant rescues

July 21, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning, catania, mayor, far right, block

Sicilians feel empathy for people not of their race, true empathy.
From The Guardian today:
A Sicilian mayor is seeking to block a ship chartered by a group of far-right activists attempting to disrupt migrant rescues in the Mediterranean.

Enzo Bianco, the mayor of Catania, has urged authorities in the port city on the island’s east coast to deny docking rights to C-Star, a 40-metre vessel hired by Generation Identity, a movement made up of young, anti-Islam and anti-immigration activists from across Europe, for its sea mission to stop migrants entering Europe from Libya.

The ship is expected to arrive on Saturday, and the group intends to launch its mission next week.

Temporary humanitarian visas

July 19, 2017

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

From The Guardian:
Italy has confirmed it is considering issuing temporary humanitarian visas that would allow tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the country from Libya to travel around the European Union.

The move would provoke an immediate Austrian response, including the closure of the border with Italy at the Brenner Pass.
Austrian troops to stop migrants crossing border with Italy
Read more

The chances of Italy being able legally to grant unilateral humanitarian visas in this way is slight, but the threat is intended to concentrate minds in the EU after Italy failed to win clear practical support from Germany and France to take more people that have been arriving in increasing numbers from Libya.

7300 rescued immigrants to arrive southern Italy tomorrow

July 13, 2017

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

From La Repubblica Palermo online today:
Seven- thousand- three- hundred immigrants rescued in the Strait of Sicily in the last 48 hours will disembark from ten rescue ships tomorrow in Sicily, Campania and Puglia, Italy's southern provinces.
This morning another 386 reached the Sicilian port of Trapani, including 71 children and 55 women, ten of whom are pregnant.

According to the latest data from Frontex, the European Union's border police, in June 24,800 migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, with an increase of eight percent over the previous month of May. And that number is 21 percent higher than the same period of last year. In the first six months of 2017, 166,000 migrants crossed the sea to reach the European Union.

Fishers of Men: Watch this movie about MOAS saving migrants at sea

July 9, 2017

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

Click on the caption to watch this excellent documentary about the work of MOAS.
From their website:
The creation of MOAS was one family’s reaction to the European migration crisis that they saw unfolding in the waters of the Mediterranean. Fishers of Men is a documentary film that follows the Catrambones as they embark on the MOAS journey and gives an inside view into the work of the NGO throughout their time at sea.

The documentary uses footage from media outlets and embedded video journalists to map the history of the charity and give a raw, unfiltered view of what maritime search and rescue operations really look like. Filmed across several years footage shows MOAS responding to the developing crisis in the Central Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. The film outlines the various aspects of the rescues as told by the search and rescue crews, tells the stories of those they rescue and gives an insight into the challenges faced by the Catrambones as they fight to keep the charity alive.

EU call to aid vulnerable migrants

July 6, 2017

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

From The Guardian:
Brussels will urge European countries to give shelter to more refugees from Africa to ease the pressure on Italy, as record numbers of people attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean....
The appeal came as Amnesty International released a damning 31-page report linking “failing EU policies” to the the rising death toll in the Mediterranean, and shocking abuses faced by refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres.

Italy needs help with migrants: The Guardian

July 5, 2017

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

From The Guardian:
High summer is migrant season in the Mediterranean. In rising numbers, men, women and children set off in the flimsiest of craft for Italy. So far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, at least 2,000 people have drowned in the attempt. This is made all the worse by the equivocation and even the hostility of EU states which make little show of solidarity; today Austria announced it was ready to send troops and tanks to stop migrants crossing the border from Italy. The Mediterranean is already the world’s worst maritime cemetery. Italy, which finds itself on the receiving end of this migration, urgently needs more European support than is currently on offer. ...
The number entering Europe by sea so far is 100,000, half last year’s number for the same period. Four-fifths of them arrived in Italy. Migrant centres are overwhelmed. The Italian government says the situation is “unbearable”. Last week it threatened to close its ports to ships used by NGOs to rescue migrants. It wants other coastline states – Spain and France – to offer points of arrival. A flurry of EU meetings – with another one due on Thursday in Tallinn – has so far produced little concrete help, while a proposed EU “code of conduct” for NGOs risks limiting their action. NGOs are furious that their humanitarian work has been described as creating a “pull factor”: they say that is finger-pointing rather than tackling the real issues.

It is to Italy’s credit that, in 2013, it became the first European country to launch a life-saving operation, Mare Nostrum. Since then, search and rescue operations have been internationalised.

Under pressure

July 4, 2017

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

From The Guardian:

Charities that rescue migrants and refugees from the Mediterranean have reacted angrily to plans to make them subject to a new code of conduct drawn up by Italy and endorsed by other EU countries.

The move is likely to bring them under the control of the Libyan and Italian coast guards, which might constrain their ability to save passengers from overcrowded and unseaworthy smuggling boats.

Volunteer rescuers exhausted

June 29, 2017

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

From today's The Guardian:
"As 1,032 people plucked from the Mediterranean prepared to disembark the MS Aquarius onto southern Italian soil on Thursday, bringing refugee and migrant arrivals to more than 12,000 this week, those who had rescued them said they understood why Rome was threatening to close its ports to such vessels.

“Officially, we haven’t heard anything from the Italian government … but if this is indeed the case, if anything it sounds more like a cry for help from the Italian government towards the EU,” said Marcella Kraay, a Dutch coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières, as the ship arrived at Porto di Corigliano in Calabria.

“And that goes along with what we’ve always asked for, which is for the EU to organise dedicated search and rescue in the Mediterranean. Until that happens we are forced to be out there because people are in danger, they’re going to drown if we’re not there.”

To read more in The Guardian, click on the photo caption.

Some 3,000 migrants arrived Sicily between yesterday and today

June 28, 2017

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

From La Repubblica this morning:
Yesterday was an intense day full of disembarkations in Sicily: some 3,000 migrants arrived on the island's coasts in just a few hours, from Palermo to Catania to Messina, Pozzallo, Augusta and Lampedusa, putting the welcome infrastructure under great strain.
There was even the lifeless body of a newborn baby (more…)

267 rescued migrants arrive Pozzallo, Sicily with ship from Doctors Without Borders

June 25, 2017

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

From today's Giornale di Sicilia:
267 immigrants arrive Pozzallo today, including three children and 27 women, aboard the Aquarius rescue ship of Doctors without Borders.
Among them 42 youths from Bangladesh and a boy from the Gambia with grave symptoms of malnutrition.
Their arrival follows another arrival Thursday at the port of Augusta, Sicily of 241 migrants rescued in four operations, along with four corpses of those who died on the journey.

Saved at Sea: Destiny from Nigeria

June 21, 2017

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

From the MOAS Facebook page:

"My name is Destiny. I’m 23 years old and from Nigeria. I’m nearly 7 months pregnant with my third child. My previous two are 4 year old twin girls. They are with my mum back in Nigeria. My family is OK but we just don’t have the money to buy food for everyone. That’s why my husband and I left to find work. We got to Libya first but it’s bad there. Everyday there is killing, it’s dangerous. No one is happy there. We were in Libya for less than a year when we both got put in prison. I got out after two months but he’s still there. He told me go to Italy even without him. That was the last time he told me. I managed to pay a smuggler 1200 dollars to cross and an extra 150 for a lifejacket. I need to find a job to help my family. That's what I'm going to do in Italy. I’m sure God will help me."

220 dead or missing in three shipwrecks in 24 hours

June 20, 2017

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

From La Repubblica today:

The only four survivors told the tale. They arrived at Palermo on the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti. On the worldwide day of the refugee, the UN announced the three incidents with some of the victims' bodies recuperated and some still lost at sea.

The first and biggest of these tragedies involved a rubber raft that left Libya on 15 June with 133 aboard , mostly Sudanese and Nigerians, that started taking on water just a few hours after departure. The rubber raft was abandoned after a few miles out to sea by the traffickers who came back to take the raft's motor, which caused it to go down.
The second incident involved a boat with at least 85 persons aboard which split in two before sinking. The people who watched the shipwreck said that they had left Libya together with two other vessels the evening of 15 June. There were many families with children aboard. Those lost at sea were primarily citizens of Syria and people coming from north Africa.
A third shipwreck caused seven deaths. The survivors disembarked at Messina, Sicily yesterday. They had left Libya on 14 June. A pregnant woman from Cameroon
lost her husband in the shipwreck.

I want to tell my readers that most of the African refugees don't know how to swim, and have never seen the sea before traffickers put them in un-seaworthy vessels and set them adrift with no pilot, no motor, no gas, no food, no water, no compass, no directions, just the clothes on their backs, so they can be packed in more tightly. They might leave land with a motor and a pilot but after a few miles, the traffickers' cohorts arrive in another boat, take aboard the pilot and re-take the migrants' vessel's motor and head back to the Libyan coast, leaving the migrants to their fate at sea.

Thousands of rescued migrants arrive Palermo, Catania.

June 19, 2017

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

1,092 immigrants arrived Palermo this morning aboard an Italian Coast Guard ship. They were saved from drowning in the Strait of Sicily: 751 men, 160 women,11 of whom were pregnant, and 185 minor children.
But that's not all.

Yesterday 730 migrants were saved from shipwreck in the central Mediterranean in 7 separate operations. The migrants were aboard 3 rubber rafts and 4 wooden units. Rescue ships belonged to the Italian Coast Guard, to the NGO Save the Childen, the NGO Jugend Rettet and a towboat.
But that's not all.

Yesterday 695 rescued migrants disembarked at Catania from aboard the Irish patrol boat P31 Le Eithne.

Photo essay by Cesar Dezfuli

June 16, 2017

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

From today's The Guardian newspaper:
Photographer Cesar Dezfuli created a beautiful black-and-white essay on life for African migrants waiting for their green cards for years in a northern Italian town not very receptive to migrants. They live in a former hotel while they wait.

rescue efforts cause unexpected problems

June 14, 2017

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

From the New York Times today:

It is part of a wrenching Catch-22: Any effort to lessen the migrant crisis can backfire as smuggling networks devise even more dangerous strategies in response. Here is how those strategies have pushed desperate migrants into even more desperate situations.
Smugglers Respond to Rescue Efforts

The bodies of 10 migrants were recovered and at least 100 more migrants were missing on Saturday off the coast of Libya. Eight of the bodies were found on an inflatable boat in the Mediterranean Sea, in a treacherous area between Libya and Italy known as the Central Mediterranean route. Each year, aid groups patrol the area and rescue thousands of migrants at risk of drowning. (more…)

Libyan Navy vs NGO rescue ships

June 10, 2017

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

From La Repubblica Palermo edition:
The Libyan navy has told NGO search and rescue ship to back off from its coastal waters and not to sit around and wait for imbarcations of refugees set out by their traffickers. The Libyan navy, like Frontex, the European border police, say that they hve intercepted phone calls between people aboard the rubber rafts and the NGO rescue ships. 570 migrants were brought back to Libyan shores. Both Frntex and the Libyan Navy say that these NGO rescue ships are vital to the traffickers who know that they will take the migrants to Europe.
"The behavior of these NGOs increases the numbers of boats of illegal migrants and the audacity of the traffickers of human beings," the Libya Navy spokesman said. In emphasizing the case of a migrant killed yesterday by traffickers Gasem, the spokeman, added that the traffickers "know well that the road to Europe is doable thanks to these NGos and their illegitimate ad suspect presence while waiting for these poor human beings."

Four NGO ships were in the area: The Prudence of Doctors Without Borders,and the ships belonging to OpenArms, Jugendrettet and Seawatch which, however rescued four boats and a rubber raft, saving 716 people and taking aboard a cadaver.


Taormina G-7 a bust for refugee crisis thanks to Trump

June 7, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning, trump, taormina, G7

From The Guardian:
The Taormina summit did not prove to be the diplomatic turning point in the debate on migration that the Italian government had once hoped. The Trump administration squashed an ambitious plan for a positive statement defending the rights of refugees. Possibly the only practical outcome of the summit was that all refugee boats were banned from landing in Sicily for seven days. Taormina residents sent a discreet letter to the local prefecture after the world leaders had left saying they wanted no migrants housed in the town as it might put off the tourists.

Can you believe this?

June 5, 2017

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

From the June 3 The Guardian:
Far-right activists are planning a sea campaign this summer to disrupt vessels saving refugees in the Mediterranean, after successfully intercepting a rescue mission last month.

Members of the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant “Identitarian” movement – largely twentysomethings often described as Europe’s answer to the American alt-right – have raised £56,489 in less than three weeks to enable them to target boats run by aid charities helping to rescue refugees.

The money was raised through an anonymous crowdfunding campaign with an initial goal of €50,000 (about £44,000) to pay for ships, travel costs and film equipment. On Saturday the group confirmed they had reached their target but were still accepting donations. A French far-right group hired a boat for a trial run last month, disrupting a search-and-rescue vessel as it left the Sicilian port of Catania. They claimed they had slowed the NGO ship until the Italian coastguard intervened.

Women and children dead and alive on raft

June 5, 2017

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

From La Repubblica today:
The mother died but her 15-month-old baby girl was saved and taken up by other women on the raft they voyaged on. The littlest migrant will arrive tomorrow morning at Trapani, Sicily aboard the ship Vos Hestia of Save the Children which rescued 125 migrants, 84 men and 41 women. On ship are also the corpses of four persons who did not make it, among them the child's mother. Twenty=five children were rescued, 21 of whom were unaccompanied by adults. Almost all were from sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo and Gambia.
Also today hundreds of migrants were rescued. Nearly 400 now are aboard the ship "Blue Gulf" of the NGO Open Arms, which is located northeast of Libya and is headed towards Italy.

After G7 port closure the corpses and immigrants arrive Sicily

May 29, 2017

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

Seven corpses arrived on the towboat Vos Thalassa along with some 1,040 migrants saved at sea yesterday in several operations on the high seas, according to today's La Repubblica online. The dead were five women and two boys. Among those saved, almost all of them from sub-Saharan Africa, were three pregnant women and fifteen children.
Awaiting them at the dock were the police chief of Palermo Antonella De Miro and city Councilman Giusto Catania who supplied seven coffins for the dead. Many volunteers from Caritas, a Roman Catholic charity, distributed food and shoes.
The towboat is the first ship with migrants to arrive after the reopening of ports at the conclusion of the G7 meeting in Taormina. Tomorrow morning at 8 the Coast Guard ship Gregoretti is expected to arrive with 254 more migrant and two cadavers.

Borders did this

May 26, 2017

Tags: immigrants, catastrophe drowning, MOAS, rescue, death, trouble, Africa, sicily, immigration, Phoenix, ship, death, tragedy, loss, borders

33 casualties on board, including 7 children, 14 women and 12 men, as boat carrying approximately 750 people partially capsizes in the Mediterranean.

24th May 2017 saw one of MOAS’ most tragic rescues to date. Overcrowding and sea swell tipped hundreds into the water during a rescue yesterday. 32 bodies were recovered to MOAS vessel Phoenix alongside 604 survivors, one of whom (more…)

Mafioso shot down while riding his bike in Palermo

May 22, 2017

Tags: mafia, palermo, boss, murder, shooting, street, anniversary, judges, Borsellino, death, blood, bike, scooters, guns, lowlife

From The Guardian:

A mafia boss has been gunned down while riding his bicycle in Sicily, in what appeared to have been the sort of mob killing that has become rarer in recent years as dangerous figures have been locked up.

Giuseppe Dainotti, 67, was shot in the head as he cycled along a street in Palermo, almost 25 years to the day since anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone was killed in a bomb blast on a motorway on the Italian island.

Photographs of Monday’s crime scene evoked decades of violence in the Sicilian capital, showing Dainotti’s body covered by a sheet, only his shoes on show, and the white bicycle he was riding lying where it fell.

Italian Judge breaks up families to save children from the mafia

February 26, 2016

Tags: Judge, mafia, children, family, break, chain, ndragheta, calabria, generations, jail, death, abuse

And that's not easy because the family as the basic unit of Italian society is built into the Italian constitution. This judge says it is abusive to bring a child to mafia meetings, indoctrinate him for entry into criminal organizations, and reduce his life's horizons. That it is just as much a crime as giving a child a syringe or a kalishnokov rifle. Read the story in English in The Guardian by clicking on the caption.

metal detectors against terrorism in Palermo

November 22, 2015

Tags: terrorism, fright, fear, culture, death, monuments, stadiums, theaters, people, metal dtectors, cost, expensive, bankrupt, culture, dead, fun, all gone

As of this moment in Palermo you cannot go to the theater, a concert, visit a monument or cathedral or soccer stadium without first being checked by a policeman with a metal detector who asks you to open your purse or bag besides. An expensive endeavor! Who should pay for the added security? Palermo (more…)

Dead man walking

November 12, 2015

Tags: pentito, mafia, provenzano, chauffeur, state's evidence, witness, testimony, witness protection program, Ficarizzi, clan, mob, family, danger, death, murder, threat, what a life

Stefano LoVerso,, for years the chauffeur of Mafia kingpin Bernardo Provenzano, turned state's evidence and was put into the government's witness protection program in a city in northern Italy. LoVerso had to leave his family behind in Ficarizzi. He said in this exclusive interview with a La Repubblica reporter that if the Mafia can't get you, they will get at the family you left behind. He has a wife and children and he decided to come back to Sicily to live with and protect them until he meets his own death, which he fully expects. The protection program cannot protect you if you come back to Sicily. LoVerso says it is the bosses who should be exiled. He knows they will get him, he just doesn't know when. "The mafia doesn't forgive," he says. Imagine the stress and ulcers of living like that! Interview in Italian.


[Sigh. Working on getting the embed code to work. Meantime, here's the link to copy and paste:]
http://video.repubblica.it/edizione/palermo/il-pentito-in-bicicletta-che-sfida-la-mafia--non-lascio-la-sicilia-se-ne-vadano-i-boss/217730/216926

683 immigrants reach Messina; 2 dead. No more room to bury them

August 29, 2015

Tags: immigration, somali, sicily, dead, death, crossing, laws, deadly, heart failure, torture, work, minor, immigrant, boy, 15 years old, objects, photo montage

Plus, Italian authorities collected 200 bodies of immigrants = 40 dead of breathing diesel fumes while locked in the hold, 160 found drowned and floating a half mile from the Libyan coast after a shipwreck.

Objects of immigrants: photos of the things they brought with them

August 28, 2015

Tags: immigration, somali, sicily, dead, death, crossing, laws, deadly, heart failure, torture, work, minor, immigrant, boy, 15 years old, objects, photo montage

Shoes, kitchen utensils, coins, a compass, a package of couscous, a life jacket, a Bible and a Koran. These are some of the objects immigrants brought to confront their voyage in the Mediterranean and left on the vessels that brought them, in years past, to the coast of Lampedusa. Memories and symbols of today's (more…)

15-year-old Somali dies after rescue at sea

August 25, 2015

Tags: immigration, somali, sicily, dead, death, crossing, laws, deadly, heart failure, torture, work, minor, immigrant, boy, 15 years old

The medical examiner has yet to make his report on the cadaver that arrived with 303 rescued immigrants. None of the other 302 immigrants can leave the boat to set foot in Sicily until the doctor has reached a determination of how the boy died aboard the Doctors Without Borders rescue ship Dignity I in (more…)

Palermo commemorates anniversary of murder of anti-Mafia Judge Paolo Borsellino

July 19, 2015

Tags: death, murder by state, mafia, multiple homicide, via D'Amelio, palermo, commemoration

It's Sunday, as it was on this date 23 years ago in Via D'Amelio, Palermo. But this time the street is not deserted and isolated like the one that awaited the three autos carrying Paolo Borsellino and his escort. A speaker's stand, flags, colors and many people await the minute, 4:58 p.m., in which a (more…)

Latest wave of refugees saved

June 8, 2015

Tags: violence, migrants, immigrants, refugess, italy, sicily, africa, human traffickers, trafficking, death, murder, awful

860 refugees reached land at Palermo, another 548 at Trapani. Many are already looking for a ticket to nortern Europe. Over the weekend 5,851 people were saved from the Mediterraneaean Sea. According to souces in Rome the number of immigrants landing since the beginning of the year are ten percent more than in the same time period (more…)

CBS News wakes up from stupor

April 26, 2015

Tags: it's about time, imigration, death, africa, sicily, mass migration

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/migrant-death-in-the-mediterranean/

"Inhuman violence"; traffickers clubbed migrants to death

April 23, 2015

Tags: violence, migrants, immigrants, refugess, italy, sicily, africa, human traffickers, trafficking, death, murder, awful

Some of the survivors of the raft that sank 80 miles off the coast of Libya, killing 400 by drowning, said that their traffickers had beaten several of their fellow travelers to death with clubs because they did not obey. One man was beaten to death at the farm where the refugees are stockpiled until setting (more…)

3000 immigrants today

April 13, 2015

Tags: sicily, palermo, immigrants, death, mediterranean, graveyard, Frontex

1,169 immigrants expected in Palermo alone by tomorrow morning. After the winter hiatus, immigrants are making the dangerous trip in unseaworthy boats and rafts again. More than ten rescue operations in the Canale di Sicilia today alone.

Ten more victims: immigrants drown at sea. 1,000 survivors expected to arrive tonight

March 4, 2015

Tags: immigration, Mediterranean, graveyard, gommone, rubber raft, drown, victims, arrivals, ships, rescue, death, migration

At least ten people drown when the rubber raft they were in bounced and flipped. They were escaping Africa. They are not allowed in Europe, and so they travel clandestinely, as best they can, because ironically they must set foot in Europe in order to claim asylum. They cannot ask for help from the shores of Tripoli. (more…)

"It is a delirium," says mayor of Lampedusa

February 17, 2015

Tags: refugees, immigrants, boats, mediterranean, graveyard, emergency, influx, people, shipwreck, rescue, death, drowning, rubber boats, Lampedusa, Agrigentino

Two hundred arrivals at Pozzallo yesterday. Another 642 expected to land at Porto Empedocle today. The immigration center at the island of Lampedusa, which had been closed down because of the worst conditions, de-staffed and opened only for emergencies is now back in use, run by a non-profit. They have 250 beds but 1,215 people to house (more…)

The Immigrants who Risk Their Lives to Get to Sicily

February 16, 2015

Tags: refugees, immigrants, boats, mediterranean, graveyard, emergency, influx, people, shipwreck, rescue, death, drowning, rubber boats

They risk everything to arrive with nothing as clandestine refugees who cross the Mediterranean, now become a graveyard for thousands like them.

Eternal Embrace

May 16, 2014

Tags: naufragio, refugees, dead, drown, shipwreck, heart, embrace, undersea, Sicily, Mediterranean, racist, grave, cemetery, marine, coast guard, documentary, film, video, European Union, laws, care, love, death

Watery grave, heart's embrace

This is a freeze frame from a video taken by Italian Coast Guard rescue and recovery divers of two refugees who died embraced on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea just off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Oct. 3, 2013, after the worst tragedy in those seas since 2000. Three hundred sixty-six people drowned together that day.
In this picture, two of them face each in what was left of their embrace. The empty space between them forms a heart. They died (more…)

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