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Out of Palermo

Volunteer rescuers exhausted

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. Read More 
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Watercolors of Sicily by Kathleen Citrolo Gwinnett

Kathleen Citrolo Gwinnett is a prolific and wonderful watercolor artist of Sicilian descent living and painting in North Carolina. She recently returned from ten days in the center of Sicily, near Caltanisetta, where she painted the vistas she had from her house. I met Kathleen on one of my book tours but we have been exchanging e mails for years.
If you want to get happy despite so much heart-wrenching news please click on the caption and go to her Facebook gallery. Her paintings are full of the joy and color and light of springtime Sicily. They make you want to sing. Read More 
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Some 3,000 migrants arrived Sicily between yesterday and today

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

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. Read More 
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Saved at Sea: Destiny from Nigeria

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." Read More 
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220 dead or missing in three shipwrecks in 24 hours

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. Read More 
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Thousands of rescued migrants arrive Palermo, Catania.

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. Read More 
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Photo essay by Cesar Dezfuli

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.
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rescue efforts cause unexpected problems

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. Read More 
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Leoluca Orlando wins fourth term as Palermo mayor

Leoluca Orlando last night won his fourth mayoral race with 46 percent of the votes of those already counted, the largest margin in the nation where cities and towns held municipal elections yesterday. He won fame as Sicily's anti-mafia mayor and it is a miracle that he is still alive. He won his last election five years ago with more 70 percent of the vote.
Bad news: Giusi Nicolini, the mayor of Lampedusa who welcomed and aided African migrants, and whose name was bandied about for the Nobel Peace Prize, lost her bid for reelection, coming in third on the European island town closest to Africa. Her successor has said that everything has to change including the presence of NGO rescue volunteers. Read More 
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