In the night from the 4th to the 5th of April has happened the latest (and possibly the worst in recent history) of ship-wracks in this Mediterranean Sea that is more and more becoming an open sky cemetery. 250 young lives have been swallowed by waves: what rescues teams have seen is so horrible that it cannot be described by words.
Should it be possible adding horror to horror, we shall go and see who these young people were and which life stories they brought with them.
They were mainly people coming from the Horn of Africa and namely by Eritrea: among them were minors, families, pregnant women and adults escaping from the obligation of life-long military service in that Country. Thanks to the stories that many of their luckier brothers have told us once they got in the European soil, we can guess with good likelihood that many of them had left their land of origin some years before: fleeing from dictatorship, war, persecutions, hunger.
They had all gone through the deserts in the hands of traffickers, paying some thousands dollars and crossing dangerous countries such as Sudan and Libya. Traffickers and corrupted soldiers had made them undergo threats, detention, requests for further money in order to be freed, for women more often sexual violence and rape (that same violence that frequently makes them reach Europe being pregnant).
Once they had reached Libya, the luckiest among them had found a job by which collecting enough money to pay for the horrific journey on unsafe boats, the less lucky had been caught by the police of the Libyan regime and detained (for the fact alone of being undocumented migrants) in jails being known for the presence of parasites, violence, abuses of all kinds, until the moment one manages to receive from the family money enough to be freed.
Some of them had then managed to leave for Italy: it was Summer 2009 and the “Friendship Agreement” signed by Berlusconi and Qaddafi gave as a result refoulements (push backs) at sea towards Libya, in full violation of the Geneva Convention and the European Convention of human rights. They had basically got till one single step from the their aim when the Italians had put them back in the hands of Libyan jailors.
Having the Mediterranean channels closed by the shameful Italy-Libya agreement, they had been stuck in a land that didn’t want them, hidden in their houses with constant fear of deportation. Until the start of the war in Libya, some weeks ago.
The 53 people that have survived the ship-wrack (over around 300 that were on the boat) have told that in the last weeks Qaddafi’s forces tried to enroll them as mercenaries and they have decided that it was better risking life crossing the sea rather than having to kill other people: this is not that surprising, coming from people having left their Country in order not to be obliged to undergo compulsory life-long military service. Life for them was not better in the liberated areas of Libya: black people are all considered as mercenaries of the regime, for which they get persecuted and lynched.
Twice victims, already refused once by Fortress Europe, their lives have broken on Mediterranea waves and never got till the Promised Land.
Feeling horror and indignation in front of such a shame is simply not enough: we have to think out a solution for refugees like them (most of which have already a UNHCR ID card) that are in this moment stuck in Libya: they are some thousands, which is a number definitely not impossible to handle for rich Europe and at the same time too big for letting our conscience not move. To the least, we owe this to the memory of their brothers and sisters that have died in the sea in a black night of April.
I then ask now and immediately: why don’t we open a humanitarian corridor under the coordination of the United Nations aiming to the evacuation of all refugees being stuck on the Libyan soil and proceed then to their resettlement in European Countries, using EU funds available for these purposes?
There is not one single minute to lose, there is not one single further life to lose. This puts into question our consciousness, our ethics, our civilization, even before than our violated laws.
Lawyer and political advisor