On the 3rd of December 2013, a boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy sank off of the Italian island of Lampedusa. The migrants were originally from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana. Approximately 360 deaths were reported.
This happens every day in the Mediterranean Sea.
An organization called Comitato Tre Ottobre was organized to commemorate the deaths of these people and to spread awareness regarding migration; to educate and inform. Every year, on the 3rd of October, the survivors from the tragic day go to Lampedusa. The Comitato Tre Ottobre invites students from schools in Italy, France, Germany, Malta and Spain to come to Lampedusa, to inform the students about migration and what it really is. Local fishermen take the survivors and the students out to sea at the exact spot where the boat sank in 2013. Both Muslim and Catholic representatives organize a prayer ceremony to pray for the deaths of the innocent.
I know all of this because I was fortunate enough to visit Lampedusa myself and was part of the Comitato Tre Ottobre project called L’Europa Inizia a Lampedusa in 2017. Lampedusa is not a famous island yet it is a very beautiful island. Similar to Gozo, it has large beaches like the Blue Lagoon and the Italian culture of the island’s main street, Via Roma, has wonderful night life.
Lampedusa is considered the gateway to Europe for migrants since it is the nearest European island to Africa. Most migrants arrive at Lampedusa before being taken to Europe. For these migrants, Europe is hope for a better life. They do not leave their countries because they want to but because their countries have big big problems that the European world does not want to help to fix.
One might ask, well why should Europe help these countries? Here is why. Every single African country was once a colony of a European country. Each and every one. These European countries took advantage of these people, considering them second class citizens, took natural resources, forced them into “free” labor and oppressed these people. Do you think it is easy to forget these things? These European countries left the African countries in a state of instability; politically, socially and economically. Most African countries today either have oppressive governments, terrorism, civil war, poverty, or all of them altogether. These African countries are the way they are because European intervention in the 1900s and decolonization had horrible repercussions.
Unfortunately, there are always the few who take advantage. It is always a small group that makes life harder for the rest. Not pay taxes, abuse from social benefits and even terrorize. Yet if we put everyone in one box and label the box as “wrong, let’s kick them out of our country”, you are not helping the innocent when it is the wrong that should be condemned. The real terrorists are in these migrants’ countries and that is why the migrants flee their countries. As humans, we do everything to survive. You would do the same. You would flee your country too for the sake of survival.
“Demm u Laham” is what the Maltese say. This saying is pronounced exactly the same in Arabic. The Maltese are not so different to the migrants. The entire world is not so different to the migrants. Keep in mind that not a long time ago, many Maltese migrated to Australia and America in search for jobs because Malta had high unemployment. People were literally suffering from famine. Keep in mind that when America was discovered, it was the Europeans who left their countries for a free life in America, the country of hope and freedom. One must understand that we are all human beings and that we need to help each other to be able to call ourselves “human”. Find your humanity.
It angers me that as citizens, we vote for our “presidents” and “prime ministers” thus giving them the power to rule and make decisions, yet for ten years and maybe even longer, migration has become an issue that keeps getting worse. This is why I have come to not believe in democracy anymore. It is all politics and personal gain. I vote to ensure the safety of all and European countries should provide that to migrants. Migrants are fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, grandparents, siblings and cousins.
I do understand that migrants can be an economic burden on Europe. Yet I can only imagine the amount of money corruption that the EU has. There it is again, personal gain. These European countries like to play with their politics of who is to allow a boat of people enter their country when the boat is about to sink in the middle of a large sea, instead of solving the problem. To solve the problem, one must understand where the problem is coming from. It comes from these migrants’ countries. I feel that the UN barely does anything to solve the problems in Africa. Waging war in these countries to stop the terrorism or remove a dictatorship may cause even more instability in a country. As democracy came naturally to the West, it took approximately 100 years for the West to establish today’s democracy. With such a different culture to the West, I wonder if these other countries are able to develop into democracy. Is democracy suitable for their culture? What I know for sure is that freedom and rights are suitable for all cultures and I can guarantee this because the migrants flee their countries since freedom and rights do not exist.
The world is constantly changing. Let’s change with it. Let’s spread hope. We are all human beings. Protect People, Not Borders. Inform Yourself.