29 August 2015

Holocaust at Sea, Messina welcomes 683 refugees and 2 dead bodies. Many among them are minors

From tempostretto.it – The disembarcation from this morning is not like the previous
ones; here the vessel Diciotti from the Coast Guard, arriving at around 8 o’
clock, has disembarked 683 women and men, rescued in the Channel of Sicily two
days ago, in the days when two boats drowned, causing more than 100 casualties.
During the operations, which the public is now watching through the lifeless
eyes of the dead bodies of those stranded children, immortalised by the photos
gaining coverage all over the world. The young people, who have been helped and
assisted in the disembarkation this morning, are particularly tired and
frightenened. They are alone. Among them some women, and as many as 100
children. And a very young child, essentially alone. It looks like that there
are no family units involved.

It is the Madonnina (the statue of the Madonna) from the Harbour
which watches them from above in one of the hottest mornings in August,
caressing their hair and their shoulders, bent over by the load of the hell
they have just been through, while police forces, volunteers and the personnel
from Asp and the Red Cross gather around them.

For the first time a member of the city council has been seen at
the docks, Nina Santisti, the newly appointed councillor for social services,
who is accompanied by some social workers of the city hall. There was great
concern ahead of the arrival yesterday, because of the reception of the
youngest among the refugees.

Only few days before the prefect Stefano Trotta had pointed out
the problem of the reception of underaged refugees in Messina, where the
procedures to adequately accomodate them are lagging behind: a register of the
foster families has never been created, nor the projects that should have been carried
out in an autonomous centre. The operations seem to proceed rather swiftly
today: around thirty minors have found a place at the welcome centre Amhed,
which is nevertheless constantly coping with overcrowding, while the other have
been placed in the centres around the county.

In the late morning the bodies of two dead persons have also
disembarked the vessel Diciotti: the coroner has carried out the autopsy on
board of the Coast guard vessel, after that the coffins have been sealed and
laid down on the dock. The investigation aiming at finding out through
depositions who the smugglers and their accomplices are, is under way. At least
five men have been brought to the central police station and await to have
their situation evaluated.

Translated by Marco Baldan

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