Monday October 3, 2016
'EU must take responsibility' says House speaker
House Speaker Laura Boldrini urged the EU to step up to the plate for refugees as Italy marked the third anniversary of a migrant boat disaster in which some 366 mostly Somali and Eritrean asylum seekers drowned within sight of the island of Lampedusa, which lies closer to Libya than to Sicily, on October 3, 2013.
The disaster, and the deaths of 34 others a week later, spurred Italy's huge Mare Nostrum migrant search-and-rescue operation in 2014, which was later replaced by an Italy-led EU mission. "Memory... is not enough when the numbers continue equalling those of a massacre," Boldrini said in a statement.
"Today for the first time we mark the Day of Memory as legislated by parliament in honor of the 366 people who lost their lives three years ago in Lampedusa," she said.The Day of Memory for migrants "forces us to consider the wars and conflicts that seem without a solution - from Syria to Somalia, from Sudan to Iraq - as well as the commitments to migrant relocation and resettlement, which have so far been disregarded by most European States".
People trying to flee war and persecution are still dying in the Mediterranean, and in greater numbers than before, Boldrini pointed out."The victims so far this year total 3,500, an increase from the previous year," she said. "Italy continues in its extraordinary rescue effort, but hosting (asylum seekers) must not only involve a scarce number of European countries.
We need all the States in the Union to take on their share of the responsibility, just as they take their share of incoming EU resources".
"Lampedusa's dead call on Europe not to forget its responsibilities," she concluded.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has traveled to Lampedusa for a ceremony marking the boat disaster alongside Lampedusa Mayor Giusy Nicolini, an outspoken defender of asylum seekers and refugee rights.