We are all in the same boat

In Lampedusa, from September 30 to October 3, 2021, the largest European event on the theme of migration was held for Italian and European students. We are all in the same boat is the title chosen for this commemoration, which is also linked to the project Snapshots from the Borders, which in four years has involved more than 35 partners between local institutions and realities of civil society in 14 European countries, to make October 3 the European Day of Remembrance and Welcome, so that tragedies like the one of 2013 will never happen again.

On October 3, 2013, in fact, a few kilometers from the island of Lampedusa, 368 people lost their lives in one of the most tragic shipwrecks: the initiatives, however, also wanted to remember the more than 22,000 people who have lost their lives at sea since then.

The Municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa, leader of the project Snapshots, was among the organizers with the Committee October 3 together with the Institute Omnicomprensivo L. Pirandello of Lampedusa, the C.P.I.A. of Agrigento, the Liceo Scientifico – musicale – coreutico G. Marconi of Pesaro.

The initiative was awarded the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic and enjoys the patronage of the European Parliament.

The events that have affected the island have involved 60 schools, 350 students accompanied by 93 teachers from 20 European countries (Italy, Bosnia, Croatia, Latvia, Austria, Hungary, Portugal, Greece, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, France, Denmark, Holland, England, Cyprus, Estonia).

The first appointment was at the “Nuova Speranza” Memorial, in Piazza Piave, at the time of the 2013 shipwreck: 03:15. The names of all the victims of the shipwreck, today, are honored thanks to the determination of Vito Fiorino, who saved many lives at sea that night, and the support of Snapshots. Among those present, in addition to the survivors of that night and the families of the victims, there were also Tunisian women – mothers, sisters and daughters – of young migrants who died or disappeared while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, who fight every day to know the truth and to stop the massacres. A blanket of solidarity, which united Bergamo and the Gioia Tauro plain, was also brought to the memorial.

At 10.30 a.m., after the musical performances of the children and the touching speech of Maria Arena, a Belgian MEP, daughter of Italian migrants who built their future in the mines, a woman who is now vice president of the Human Rights Commission of the EU Parliament, the memorial ceremony was held at the Gateway to Europe. Before laying wreaths at the site of the disaster, the Archbishop of Agrigento, Monsignor Alessandro Damiano, and the Imam of Catania, Kheit Abdelhafid, took turns with Father Mussie Zerai, who has been fighting for the rights of migrants for years.

Father Zerai prayed, in Tigrinya, for the victims, who were almost all from Eritrea, while Imam Abdelhafid stressed that “for our brothers in North Africa, Lampedusa was placed in the middle of the sea by the hand of Allah, to protect them, to offer them a foothold.

In the afternoon, Mayor Martello also inaugurated the avenue dedicated – near the lighthouse – to the memory of Judges Falcone and Borsellino. This is one of the steps of the path of peace in Lampedusa, which the mayor explained to be “the first step of a project that will recover the old military structures, to make it an international center of arts and sciences on the island, because wars, climate change and migration are linked and connected, and only with a work on the causes of migration something will change. For the future Lampedusa will recover its historical role as a place of peace and truce, to overcome the idea of landings that for too many years have been the only story of the island.

At the side of Mayor Martello also the UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments), the largest global organization of cities, local governments and municipal associations that has more than 250,000 members from over 120 UN countries. “We will be at the side of Lampedusa to develop this path of peace, because it is the global change starts from the local”.

With them, in addition to the deputy mayor of Sfax, Tunisia, also the members of the Board Towns and Islands Network (BTIN), the most solid result of the Snapshots project, which saw the birth – in December 2019 in Marsa – of the coordination of border mayors in Europe, who want to speak with one voice to be heard by the decision-making centers that with their policies on migration too little listen to those who have always lived on the border.

In the following days, a delegation of the partners of Snapshots from the Borders made a field visit to Lampedusa, where they were able to visit the Favaloro pier, where the procedures for the disembarkation of migrants take place, accompanied by Caterina Famularo, psychologist and former director of the Lampedusa reception centre, the Museum of Trust and Dialogue in the Mediterranean, the cemetery that houses the graves of migrants and, finally, to listen to Vito Fiorino’s direct testimony of that dramatic night in 2013. With the commitment that this was not the end, but only the beginning of a project that from the borders of Europe calls for a decisive change of pace in European policies on migration, so that tragedies like that will never happen again.


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