Friday, January 30, 2009

United by Grief --- Sicily Scene

Today has been the fourth day of a general strike on the beautiful but troubled island of Lampedusa. For newer readers, Lampedusa is often the destination of would-be illegal immigrants from North Africa. Some manage to get as far as its shores unaided whilst many others are rescued from their inadequate boats or from the sea itself and are taken there. The island has a "welcome" centre built for 800 but currently said to be providing accommodation for 1,800 people. The residents of Lampedusa are fed up, as the situation affects their tourist trade and of course changes their lives in other ways not of their choosing.
Now the Italian Government wants to build a second centre on the island and claims that this centre will be used to identify and deport the clandestini more quickly. The inhabitants of Lampedusa believe this will only make matters worse and, at the end of their tether, they began a general strike on Sunday and are also staging protests, led by their Mayor. 600 detainees temporarily escaped from the original centre on Sunday and joined the protest, as they are unhappy about their treatment, especially given the overcrowding. Thus the interests of these two groups strangely coincided and the residents applauded the clandestini.

Continued at Sicily Scene.


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