April 9, 2016
A young man from Gambia was peacefully talking on a street corner with friends from his native Gambia when a mafioso-type jerk from the neighborhood came up to them and started insulting them. Usually, the immigrants will turn and run. But Yusupha Susso, a 21-year-old Gambian stuck up for himself and for his friends. (more…)
December 30, 2015
Palermo's brand new Archbishop Corrado Lorefice has installed four Nigerian refugees in the bishop's residence, the diocese's incredible palace across from the cathedral on Via Vittorio Emanuele: a young Nigerian woman, and a Nigerian mother of two small children.
He encouraged others to do the same, especially in this Year of Mercy as prescribed (more…)
December 23, 2015
The unspoken undercurrent in this article is that Stephanie may be the unwitting victim of a thriving human- traffic in sex slaves. Naive Nigerian girls, especially from Benin City, are often tricked into forfeiting their lives in the sex trade when they are offered work as hair dressers, grocery clerks in the new world then once in Europe are forced into a life of prostitution from which they are not freed until they pay upwards of $40,000 to their captors. I wonder if her captors will reclaim her as their merchandise once she leaves the Ragusa women's refuge. She still does not know she is in danger. Click on the caption to read the story in The Guardian.
December 13, 2015
Brussels is to unveil radical plans to strip national governments of authority over their borders in an emergency and to create a border guards force to police the EU’s frontiers, supervise asylum claims, and detain and deport failed asylum seekers.
The controversial response to the immigration crisis is to be launched on Tuesday (more…)
September 9, 2015
The Syrian boy, now a symbol of all refugees and immigrants
The 85-year-old mother of my friend Naomi wrote this letter to her congressman in support of immigrants seeking new homes, new lives.
US Congressman Sam Farr
Dear Sam Farr,
I am writing today to make a case as best as I can to reverse the current American paralysis towards the Syrian, Eritrean, Afghanistani refugees as they walk, hide swim, are trunked in cars to escape the seemingly never ending middle Eastern wars.
I speak from experience: I was in the same situation 70 years ago: expelled by the Nazis, my parents tried desperately to get entry into European and American countries – to no avail. By fortuitous circumstances, Shanghai proved to be an open door (nobody had thought to close it) and about 20,000 Polish, German, Austrian, Czech Jews survived the war there .But 13 of my immediate family members who did not choose to escape were gassed, murdered or shot in Vienna and Czechoslovakia.
It is this stark today, perhaps worse. Today’s refugees have been in camps; they’ve been bombed;
they’ve been passed on from jihadist group to new jihadist groups.
In the 1930’s I wondered why nobody fought to let us in. Today , I am luckily on the other side
I am a bystander who looks on from afar.
I have seen the triumph of immigrants here . I wont allow the new Trumpifying of them . Right here ,in Carmel, the owner of a cleaning establishment is Korean, the owner of the bagel bakery is Cambodian, another cleaning establishment is owned by a Chinese; a girl behind the desk of my swim club is Salvadorian: we absorb immigrants. They contribute to diversification. They blend in.
So.I cant believe that America built by immigrants , stands idly by when the stream of refugees heading towards Europe is growing ;when there is no end of war in sight. In fact,
America, by not bombing Syrian chemical facilities (Obama’s red line ) has allowed the war to continue.
In the 1970’s at the end of the Vietnamese war we took in 140,000. We should do this again. We should take political leadership – together with the United Nations, together with the Pope – to take immediate action .There is a promise to take in 5 to 7,000 refugees next year according to the NYTimes
(9/6/2015). Not enough.
All it needs is political will and organization. We can fly over there and register thousands and airlift them or put them on boats ; start the process of rehabilitation – first in transit camps which should include language classes & health exams; followed by vocational training with plans to disburse the new arrivals throughout the country. We should encourage Saudi Arabia ,the Gulf States
to do same.We should start a refugee peace corps- give college credits to youngsters who are looking for a cause.
If we turn our backs on this situation, we will be creating more terrorists: and more
significantly, we are turning our backs on our own history.
Please distribute this letter as widely as you can………………
August 29, 2015
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.
August 28, 2015
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…)
August 26, 2015
NY Daily News: "More than 100,000 migrants have reached Italy so far this year, but at least 2,300 are believed to have died while trying to make the crossing."
August 25, 2015
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…)
August 22, 2015
Front page news in today's La Repubblica Palermo on line edition:
Latest wave of immigrants. Between two and three thousand immigrants in rubber rafts and old boats asked for rescue from Italian and European agencies spread out across the Strait of Sicily. More than 20 requests came into the Italian coast guard which coordinates the (more…)
August 15, 2015
If you have enough money to pay the traffickers, you can get a spot in the open air on the deck, and maybe even be allowed to wear a life jacket, which takes up precious, expensive room. Everybody else is relegated to the hold and diesel fumes -- locked in -- for the duration of the sea crossing. This usually means the hold is filled with women and children , who earn less and can pay less to the traffickers.
At least 40 African migrants died suffocated in the diesel fumes of the old fishing boat that traffickers used to take them to Sicily. 312 people were saved by the merchant marine ship, including women and children, according to a front page report in today's La Repubblica. Another 420 immigrant are expected to arive at the port of Augusta tomorrow. Some 2,300 African immigrants lost their lives at sea between Africa and Italy in 2015. (more…)
July 28, 2015
There 13 dead bodies aboard an overloaded boat full of immigrants aided yesterday in the Strait of Sicily by the Irish military boat "L. E. Niamh.". On the refugee boat were 522 people, and the corpses lay among them. The causes of the deaths of the 13 were not clear. Besides this operation, yesterday saw another four (more…)
July 13, 2015
Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando arrived with a statue of Santa Rosalia, the city's patroness, in Mondello, saying the symbolic act reminds everyone that many, many immigrants arrive by sea too, and that they deserve to be welcomed and loved. The theme of this year's five-day feast, which begins Tuesday, is La Misericordia. It means (more…)
July 11, 2015
The Italian Coast Guard ship Dattilo moored at the port of Palermo and disembarked the 717 refugees saved from a Thursday shipwreck off the shores of Libya along with 12 cadavers. The Dattilo picked up the victims and the survivors along with the ship Corso and two motorboats that left from Lampedusa.
June 20, 2015
A beautiful story by my favorite La Repubblica reporter, Claudia Brunetto. I translate it here:
They arrived last June at the port of Palermo, picked up on the high seas by a military ship. And since then they live in the parish of Falsomiele, guided by Father Sergio Mattaliano, director of the Catholic charity (more…)
June 6, 2015
Since this morning 2,000 immigrants have been saved at sea by Italian naval vessels and the ship Moas Phoenix of the Mr. and Mrs Catrambone. (Catrambone is a wealthy Italian-American businessman based in Malta and his wife is from Calabria. The first time she saw a floating jacket in the Mediterranean from her yacht and (more…)
May 31, 2015
1,019 Syrians, Palestinians and Moroccans arrived at the port of Pozzallo, Sicily in the last 24 hours, according to La Repubblica. Doctors have found 300 cases of scabies, and five cases of measles. Four pregnant women were sent to the hospital and there was a boy with a traumatic injury to his neck.
The ship Peluso was (more…)
May 4, 2015
Nearly 4,000 boat people from Africa were saved over the weekend. The ships of the Italian navy were employed in the continuous, non-stop rescue operations in the Mediterranean, aiding boats and rafts in trouble in the waters of the Strait of Sicily, between Lampedusa and Libya, bringing the survivors to the ports of Augusta, Reggio (more…)
April 13, 2015
From today's La Repubblica: A boat full of immigrants capsized 80 miles off the coast of Libya and nine people drowned trying to get to Europe. The Italian coast guard saved the 144 shipwreck survivors and put them on a military boat bound for Sicily while Coast Guard members stayed to look for more survivors or (more…)
March 8, 2015
By June of 2014, 59,880 migrants had landed on Italy's coast, more than arrived in all of 2011, and Sicily got 53,000 of them. All of them were treacherous voyages. Thousands of minors arrived without any family. They paid an average of $1,600 to board a broken-down fishing boat packed with 300 people, and no life vests. Life vests take up room. (more…)
March 4, 2015
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…)
February 10, 2015
Twenty-nine people died of exposure to the cold on a rescue from the sea. They died while being rushed to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island closest to Africa. They were rescued from some of the worst conditions at sea, waves twenty feet high.
Update: here is the story in the NYT:
February 9, 2015
Voyages of desperation. The Mediterranean is a graveyard for people trying to escape, war, famine, cruel dictators and genocide at the hands of Boko Haram.