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Out of Palermo

Sicilians offer swimming, diving lessons to refugees traumatized by their sea crossing

From the Washington Post:
By Michael Birnbaum July 15 at 7:12 PM
MESSINA, Italy — Abdoulie Jallow lives on the Sicilian coast, but until recently, looking at the Mediterranean Sea filled him with dread.
The azure water reminded the 17-year-old Gambian of his journey from Libya last year, a middle-of-the-night departure on an overcrowded dinghy in which he had to abandon himself to his faith in God. Read More 
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As Gianfranco Rosi collects Golden Bear, 943 more African immigrants rescued at sea

While documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi was celebrating his win in Berlin for his documentary Fuocoammare ( Fire at Sea) about the people of Lampedusa accepting and caring for African immigrants, nearly a thousand more immigrants were arriving on the island's shores.
It was a weekend of life saving at sea off the coast of Libya, according to La Repubblica  Read More 
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Archbishop Lorefice took in four Nigerian immigrants

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  Read More 
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Letter to her congressman

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
Washington, D.C.


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………………

Sincerely,
Lotte Marcus
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40,000 immigrants to Sicily this year, 4,000 arrived just this week.

The most recent arrivals have been turned away and sent to Sardinia and Calabria because Sicilian immigrant "reception" centers, where immigrants are housed and fed while their fates are decided-- accepted as refugee or sent back to Africa -- are overcrowded and not up to the job of accepting or deferring waves of thousands of arrivals.  Read More 
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Syrian girl, 10, dead because traffickers threw away her insulin

A ten-year-old diabetic girl escaping war in Syria boarded a wooden vessel with her father, who has a degree in economics, and her sisters, headed for the Italian coast. They were 320 people squashed together like sardines. The traffickers made more room by throwing the little girl's day pack into the sea. It contained vials of insulin  Read More 
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The poor give to the Poor. BRAVI!!

In just under 24 hours, one of the poorest and toughest neighborhoods of Palermo mobilized to welcome and care for the 717 refugees, including survivors of shipwreck, who arrived in Palermo yesterday, according to La Repubblica. Volunteers from the Falsomiele neighborhood brought clothes, shoes and tee shirts to distribute to thewomen and children, people who arrived,  Read More 
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New arrivals

An Irish military ship , Le Eithne, picked up 647 migrants in trouble at sea and brought them to Palermo. Among them were 95 women, two of whom were pregnant. A group of 180 migrans were transferred by ferry from Lampedusa to Porto Empedocle where they will arrive this evening.
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Wealthy family saves immigrants' lives at sea, regularly

From La Repubblica 16 May 2015 online edition:

The 120-foot ship Phoenix, working for the non-governmental organization MOAS, pulled into the port of Messina, Sicily with 405 migrants aboard.MOAS stands for Migrant Offshore Aid Station. The United States ship belongs to a wealthy couple, Regina and Christopher Catrambone, involved in a philanthropic and humanitarian mission to  Read More 
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Reuters calls it 4,800 refugees rescued

The Washngton Post published a Reuters report saying Italy now claims that 4,800 boat people were rescued over the weekend.
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