“People were suffocating in the hold and started dying. There were about dozens of them, all cramped together. Somebody tried to get free, to move out, and the boat just capside… Then only the corpses could be seen floating about. Hundreds of them…” Hadiya (false name, to protect her privacy) spoke, her gaze lost and expressionless, what had happened to her. With her, other immigrants who have survived the massacre which occured 80 miles off the coast of Libya. Early reports, spokle of at least 9 bodies that had been retrive by the Italian Coast Guards, but figures, as reported by the 144 survivors are estimated to be higher.
Amongst the victims,Hadiya lost all she had: her mum, her dad and her sister. They were fleeing from the war, from hunger, exhausted and terrified; and now she has noone left. However, it would be wrong to say that she has been left completely on her own. The 12 year old child from the Republic of Gambia, has been welcomed in the First Aid home for adolescents which the ‘Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII’ is inaugurating in Reggio Calabria, amidst a real phase of emergency, before its real official opening.
“We are doing our utmost to welcome in this people, Europe should also do its part – Giovanni Ramonda has said, the head of the community home. – Italy cannot make it on its own. We are willing to accomodate and open up our facilities including hotels, in spite of the threats that have been recently launched by Matteo Salvini against allowing the occupation of hotels”. The words have been clear, those that have come from the head of the association founded by don Oreste Benzi, who are not afraid of going aginst the current: “The regions and the parliamentarians who wish to close their doors on these immigrants should rather resort to asking Europe to modify the agreements of Dublin – Ramonda continued –. It should be in the capacity of the refugee to ask for asylum in all the European states and not only where they disembark: this is the only way to tackle the wave of migrations that cannot be prevented. We are asking them to open up a humanitarian canne to avoid that these drammitic incidents take place like the ones of this young girl that we have accomodated”.
In order to offer more protection, they are creating a ‘cloud’ of solidarity, by permitting her to elaborate on the tragedy she has lived through. By playing cards, taking her to see the shops… distracting her more than anything else. In the home, further to other operators in the community – there’s also L.G., an Eritrean, who has given birth to her first child, between the nights of Monday and Tuesday, on the ship Orione of the Military navy. With her, her husband who have all escaped from the terrifying drama.
In the meantime, the appeal to the governments from the EU commission spokesman, Bertaud: “The immigration emergency is a top priority on the listo f priorities of the EU which is working towards finilising a new strategy by May. We shall act, we cann no longer hesitate”. The situation in the Mediterranean “ is very serious and shall get worse in the forthcoming weeks and months” but we need to be sincere, the Commission can’t make it on tis own; we have no magical wand” because “because we have neither funds nor the political support” needed to launch European rescue operations. These are words that recall those already pronounced by Ramonda. And while governments are turning a blind eye and some who are doing political propaganda at the expense of those in need of help, people continue losing their lives.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati