Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

The image above is from the EMERGENCY website. All of their contact information is here.
Dr. Linda di Benedetto's log entries will start below... waiting... waiting... waiting... aaah, there it is!

Aug 29 '21

OK. She got there! So far, it looks pretty easy. Oh, it was Sunday. That car looks like a WWII German VW jeep left over from the Afrikakorps. Well, they're close to north Africa.

Aug 31 '21
The gateway to Europe. Dedicated to all the immigrants who have lost their lives at sea. Very very emotional.

Sept 1 '21

 The Reception Center has a veterinary staff.
They handle a lot of caretta caretta, the Latin

term for, uh, "turtle turtle" (image above). It is all
close enough (a few km, as the crow-crow flies)
to Carthage so that if elephant-elephants are left
from when Hannibal
was there, we'll see how good
these vets really are.
It's sad to see how much weight Dr. Linda has lost 

 in just a  few days (image above) ...  wait...
whew!  Scared me.

Sept 2 '21

   Uh, captain, I'll wait, thank you. What time  does the next turtle leave?
Note the Arabic text on the boat.

Sept 6 '21 

News sources in general are now reporting on the grim situation on Lampedusa. The Immigration Reception Center (IRC) is overflowing, with now (Sept 5) more than twice as many refugees (568) than it was built to hold (250).
Some have been transferred by ferries to Sicily. Desperate "boat people" keep arriving daily by the dozens, 300 in the last few days. One "solution" is to warehouse in cruise ships moored off-shore at Lampedusa those who do not require immediate emergency care. The problem is not likely to get better.

Sept 7 '21

 General info about Lampedusa  (L.) (image, right) . If you are unsure of where L. is, it is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands (the tiny box in the image (left). L., Linosa, and Lampione are in the Sicilian province of Agrigento. L. is the southernmost part of Italy and Italy's southernmost island. Tunisia, which is about 113 km (70  miles) away, is the closest landfall to the islands. Sicily is farther at 205 km (127 mls), while the island nation of Malta is 176 km (109 mls) to the east.

From January to April 2015, about 1600 migrants died on the route from Libya to L. , making it the deadliest migrant
route in the world. The 2017 Oscar-nominated Italian documentary Fire at Sea  was about this migrant crisis and was filmed entirely on the island in 2014 and 2015. The film also won the 66th Berlin Film Festival. The 2016 book Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilitta tells of life on the island and the migrant crisis through the eyes of a local doctor. Dr. Bartolo (b.1956 in L.) was the responsible doctor for the health service and the outpatient clinic of L. from 1992 to 2019. He was there for the  first migrants who landed. In 25 years he examined and cared for about 250,000 refugees on the island. That position has now passed to Dr. Francesco Cascio.

SEP 9 - The Italian Coast said Thursday that it saved 125 asylum seekers on two boats off Isola dei Conigli, a small island near Lampedusa, after one of the vessels starting taking on water in choppy waters. The bad sea conditions made the operation complex and rescue swimmers were needed. All of the 125 people, including 49 women and 20 minors, are in good health although several are in a state of shock.

Sept 14, '21

Reports for the 14th say five more boats have landed, unloading 63 migrants on the island. They keep coming, drawn by what from north Africa looks like good weather —high-pressure area and calm seas. That is very deceptive. A few miles out, that high barometric pressure has been dropping for days, and you can get a waterspout,. That sounds like the tiny thing in your bathroom. It's  a tornado. This is a photo taken from Lampedusa on Sept.11. It missed Lampedusa but struck the island of Pantelleria, killing 2 persons, injuring 9, and causing extensive damage to property. They toss cars and people around like matchsticks. Pantelleria and Lampedusa are 150 km (93 miles) apart. The twister then turned for Lampedusa, but stopped. People at the reception center don't panic. They stare at it and think, Please, not this.

updated at 20.53 on Sept. 14 from the station at Agrigento on Sicily. Incoming refugee boats poured into Lampedusa today with the landing of 25 boats, towed in by Italian coast guard patrols. The boats held from 6 to 16 Tunisians. There are now 613 refugees house in the IRC facility. It was built for 250. The coast guard also took into tow one large boat (9 meters/28 feet) with 48 men from Bangladesh and another 12-meter/36-ft boat with 102 men from Bangladesh, Eritrea, and Sudan. Many have been warehoused in the large quarantine ferry in the harbor.

Sept 15, '21
Yes, it's this bad.

photo from Sept. 15

Sept 16, '21


Sept.18, '21

The plight of refugees is world-wide. The larger boat in the background off of Lampedusa is from the Spanish charity
Proactiva Open Arms, in operation since2015. It is run from the Greek island of Lesbos. There are other organizations such as the
UK-based International Maritime Rescue Federation. It's all less of a hierarchy than a group with everyone helping everyone
else with the goal of preventing loss of life in the waters of the world. (photo: Juan Medina, Reuters)

A Benefactor's Work is Never Done
I remind you that EMERGENCY was founded by this man.

Gino Strada (1948 – 13 August 2021) died a few weeks ago. That left a big gap among doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers, whose goal is to help those who are in pain. The consolation is that his life was exemplary. A doctor told me the other day she wanted join EMERGENCY, the medical humanitarian organization founded in 1994 by Strada, his wife, and colleagues and that by now has treated millions of patients around the world. After medical school Strada went into emergency surgery. His concern was war victims. In 1988, he began surgery with the International Committee of the Red Cross in conflict zones, including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Peru, Afghanistan, Thailand, Djibouti, Somalia, Bosnia. He launched projects in Iraq, Cambodia, Eritrea and Afghanistan, now much in the news. EMERGENCY was effective. By 2013 EMERGENCY was running four hospitals and 34 clinics in Afghanistan. Strada's life was a handbook on doing the right thing: "Do you think that health care is a human right? Do you think all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity? Yes and yes. He devoted his life to those principles. He would be the first to say he left a lot undone. But what he did get done matters to the millions he helped.
    "If any human being is, at this very moment, suffering, or ill, or hungry, that is something that should concern  all of us because to ignore the suffering of a person is always an act of violence, one of the most cowardly."  
 "War is a persistent form of terrorism against civilian populations in which people are maimed by bullets, shrapnel, 
antipersonnel mines and so-called toy mines. Treating the wounded is neither generous nor merciful; it is only just. It has to be done.” 
-Gino Strada          

Sept.19, '21

This is what that the Italian Coast Guard on Lampedusa does all day, all night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The summer season and early autumn are intense. The good weather and calm seas tempt refugees to make the crossing. The Coast Guard cruises constantly, searching every beach and every rock, any place where a refugee might just have been dumped, always keeping an eye on the open water for loose swimmers.

When they find someone, they get that person into a life-jacket and into a small wooden boat. Coast Guard swimmers often go into the water to get those who cannot help themselves, such as (shown here) pregnant woman and young children. The Coast Guard gets the refugees back to the Immigration Reception Center where
they will get immediate care if necessary. The center is already overflowing and there is a large cruise ship
converted to  a refugee hotel in the harbor. They're safe. That's a start.                        (photos: Juan Medina, Reuters)

Sept.21, '21

To get a handle on how vast the problem is, we should know the answers to a few questions:
Q1— How many people are there in the world?     A— Almost 8 billion               

Q2— What's the difference between "refugee" and "internally displaced person"?    A—  Refugees cross an international border and are at risk in their own country.  Displaced persons have not crossed a border, but have also fled their homes.

Q3— How many of each are there?         A— At the end of 2020, there were 82.4 million forcibly displaced people in the world, more than a quarter are refugees. That  has doubled since 2010 and is higher now than ever before. So, about 20 million refugees.

Q4— What is a refugee camp?       A— A temporary settlement for refugees and people in refugee-like situations. They have fled  their country. Camps with over  100,000 people are common, but as of 2012, the average camp houses around 11,400.  They are  built and run by a government, the United Nations, international organizations (such as the Red Cross), or non-governmental organization.

Q5— Where are these camps?     A— In the world?  Many nations on all continents except Antarctica have them.

Q6— Where are they in Europe?      A— Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Turkey, France, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Montenegro.

Q7— In general, what services do camps provide for refugees?
A— Ideally, a headquarters to coordinate services; health care (regular and emergency, both physical and  emotional, particularly important); hygiene facilities, such as washing areas, latrines, or toilets; places for water collection; food distribution; news (e.g. at least a radio); security and protection from theft; schools and training centers; cemeteries or crematoria; places for solid waste disposal.

Q8— What is done at sea?      A— There are at least 30 vessels dedicated to rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean. They are from Spain, Germany, Italy, Gibraltar, Luxembourg, France, Norway, Panama, Netherlands, UK, and Belize. There are also some single- and twin-engine planes that patrol.

Q9— What happens to refugees when they are "finished" at a camp?  
A— Compassion and politics don't mix very well.  Some camps go back decades. Some refugees have spent their entire lives  in a camp. More to the point, in Italy they might move into Italian society. Many have useful skills: language teachers, medical skills, skilled laborers, whatever. They can apply for  residence and  citizenship. Then they are part of us. That would be ideal.

Sept.22, '21

Lampedusa was the scene of a highly publicized sea-rescue. German sea-captain, 31-year-old Carola Rackete (image) in June of 2019 as captain of the Sea-Watch 3 and her crew took 53 Libyan refugees from their sinking boat in the Mediterranean. She spent weeks looking for a European port that would accept them and finally, on June 29, landed them at the island of Lampedusa, flouting Italian authorities who had forbidden her from docking. (My original entry is here.)
The rest
is heavy legalese.

Q1— What is a sea-resue?       A — Saving someone who is in danger at sea in a sinking boat or already in the water.

Q2— What laws govern this?   A — International maritime laws specifically direct captains of vessels  to rescue "those in peril on the sea." A captain who ignores that risks fines, prison, and his/her license as a captain.

Q3— What do courts and scholarly legal opinion say about the affair.   A — Capt. Rakete was justified. She had no choice. The law says "rescue and disembark safely" at the nearest friendly port. That was Lampedusa.  She had critically ill refugees. She made the right decision.

Q4 — Did they know she was coming?
A —  She radio'd ahead. An Italian Coast Guard boat went out to check and took about 10 refugees in critical health back to the medical facility on Lampedusa.

Q5 — So what's the problem?     A — Matteo Salvini, former head of the anti-immigration Lega (Northern League). He hates the south and refugees. He has told ports not to take refugees, but this time is charged with kidnapping
forceful detentionbecause he did not let them  "disembark safely" in a sea-rescue. He says it is a citizen's duty to defend his country. His duty as a member of the legislature, however, is to help his country fulfill its commitments. His trial started in September of 2020 and will go on forever. He could go to jail, I  doubt that will happen. He could lose his right to ever again hold public office.  Maybe.

Q6 — What happened to Capt. Rackete?    A — Released after 3 days of house arrest. She is strong and believes in "doing the right thing". You will not shove this woman around. She is a committed political activist. She says, "I'm white, born in a wealthy nation, my papers are all in order, I studied at three universities and was successful when I was 23. I should help those who are less fortunate."

Q7 — Where do we stand now?
A —  Conclusions? If no one really wants these people ... I don't know. Nationalism in the world is on the rise, as are authoritarian governments. Einstein once said that "nationalism is like a childhood disease. It's the 'measles of the human race."



                        The forgotten victims at the bottom of the sea off of Lampedusa.
Nine bodies (some are women and children) have been on the bottom 500 meters off of Lampedusa 90 meters down (180 feet) since June 30 when their boat went down. It is not clear from the video how many are below board and how many are outside, next to to the wreckage (there are at least two tarps on the sand) but 9 victims in all have been counted. The state will not pay for the recovery. Some private citizens have offered to pay,  but the Coast Guard can't accept money from private sources. The Coast Guard video is very brief, nothing grisly, just the wreckage and open hatches. The bodies are down there, seen by a robot camera. No one pays much attention  to things like this anymore.  They're so common. That's grim.



Kelly T. Clements, assistant secretary to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) said recently:

"Over the past decade, the population of forcibly displaced people around the world has doubled to a record 82 million people. I don’t think you can go to any region of the world that is not impacted,” she said, pointing to the need for a greater collective response as conflicts and climate change destabilize more communities. "My frustration is often we have little snippets of attention — on Venezuela, on Syria, on Myanmar — whatever is the hot topic of the moment. But then the world turns away.”

Lampedusa is always a case-in-point. This comes from yesterday,  28 Sept.: "700 refugees in few hours. After a few of bad weather, calm seas have seen renewed arrivals, mostly in a single old 15-meter (45-foot) metal fishing boat, spotted four miles from shore by a vessel of the Guardia di Finance" [whose normally look for smugglers of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms) and escorted into disembark at Lampedusa. Those who require immediate medical care will get it. The others will be warehoused in the large cruise ship in the harbor. It may not be, as Clements suggests, that the world is "turning away". The world is swamped.

From the
"The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of our work. With 149 States parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outline the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that refugeea should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law. UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with us in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected." Both documents are at this UN link.

Oct .1, '21
To stress how massive and continuous the effort is to save refugees in the Mediterranean, there are at this moment 35 rescue ships cruising, looking for refugees in the water or on boats. They all deserve praise, but one will make the point. On Sept. 29, the humanitarian vessel Geo Barents  (shown) docked in the coastal town of Augusta in Sicily, disembarking 60 African migrants over a week after rescuing them in the sea off Libya. Geo Barents is the current rescue vessel of Médecins Sans  Frontières (MSF) (Doctors Without Borders). It is the sixth vessel that Médecins Sans Frontières has used since its founding in 1971 in the aftermath of the Biafra secession in Nigeria (1967-70). The MSF HQ is in Geneva and works in 70 countries with over 35,000 personnel, mostly local doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, logistical experts, and water and sanitation engineers. Private donors provide about 90% of their funding. This is the seventh year in which MSF has operated in the Mediterranean. Their "home port" of choice is Augusta. Geo Barents is a solid ship, built in 2007 for geological research and now adapted for search and rescue. The ship is 77 meters long, and has two sections for refugees - one for men, the other for women and children. The vessel has facilities for MSF teams to carry out medical assistance and can deploy two fast rigid inflatable boats. Geo Barents sails under the Norwegian flag. The latest operation was the third this year and typical: she sailed from Alesund in Norway on 13 May 2021, and on 10 June 2021 made the first rescue of refugees from the sea. By 14 June 2021, there were 400 refugees aboard, who were disembarked on 18 June at Augusta. They crew and personnel will now self-quarantine for ten days and then go off on another rescue mission. As of Monday, 27 Sept., according to Italy’s Interior Ministry, 44,778 migrants had disembarked in Italy this year, with the top nationalities Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt. The total is nearly double the number of arrivals in the first nine months of 2020 and five times the number of 2019.
(cont. below)

Oct .2, '21


From Doctors Without Borders (MSF): " With increasing numbers of migrants and refugees arriving by boat on Lampedusa, our teams plan to work on the island throughout the summer alongside local authorities. We will provide medical and psychological support at landing points and at the reception center, with a focus on identifying vulnerable people with specific needs to  ensure they receive adequate care. We call for safe and legal channels for people to reach Europe and a European rescue  system to avoid unacceptable suffering." MSF has three teams working in Lampedusa. The first – made up of a doctor, a nurse and two cultural mediators, working alongside doctors from local health authorities – is involved in triage activities and
providing initial assistance, from testing people for COVID-19 screening to identifying people in need of emergency care.The second team – a doctor, a nurse, a psychologist and two cultural mediators – will be based at the reception center during  periods of high arrivals on the island or when there are specific needs. This team will provide medical and mental healthcare and ensure that patients can access further medical assistance and continuity of care. The third team – made up of psychologists and cultural mediators – will be on standby to offer psychological first aid to survivors of shipwrecks.   [Lampedusa is just beyond the light-green area "40 nautical mile (74 km) from the coast, the major sea route.)

This is from the Save the Children

“European governments showed leadership by supporting the Italian government in rescue operations in the Mediterranean – but they must think about what happens to vulnerable children when they get off the boats,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “For many of these children, their journey has only just begun. We have a brief window of opportunity to save them from people traffickers when they land in Italy, before they disappear into a criminal underworld. Italy must be given more support to protect every unaccompanied child, at the point of arrival, and beyond. EU governments must share the responsibility for the care and protection of vulnerable children who cross the Mediterranean – especially victims of trafficking and violence. To prevent thousands of vulnerable migrants – including children – from becoming victims of violence, abuse, exploitation, and risking their lives to make the perilous journey to Europe, Save the Children is calling on Member States to strengthen resettlement and humanitarian admission program, as well as other safe and legal routes for migration to the EU.

Oct .4, '21

Please, is there nothing to lighten the despair? these tales of refugee woe and agony? Well, yes. The ones who are rescued and taken to Lampedusa are safe. No more beatings, torture, rape. Whatever their future, they're safe. And maybe this.
                       Sail on, O Sheep of State! —or
                        If you're a sheep, this is as good as it gets.
From Lampedua on 02 October: 13 Tunisians, among whom were 2 women and 3 children, were spotted 20 miles (30 km) off the island by the Italian coast guard and escorted in. There was also a sheep on board their boat. What? Yes, a sheep just bleating to be rescued. The refugees are safe, but the sheep had to be quarantined. A veterinarian had to come down from Sicily and determine its condition. The first condition, of course, is that it's a sheep. No help for that. If it turns out to be a healthy animal, it is good to go. Go where? I don't know. Right now, it's trimming weeds at the Immigration Reception Center, but it'll sure have tales to tell of the great escape! the high seas! the rescue!  something to thrill the little lambs before they're all turned into chops and diplomas for semi-literate high-school seniors.

Oct .5, '21

The annual October 3 commemoration on Lampedusa has just finished. The participants have dispersed. A few live on the island, some were former refugees come back for the occasion, many were young people from various countries who wanted to be in this noble, endless fight for justice. The memorial is organized by the Comitato 3 Ottobre, by their self-description, "a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness on issues of integration and acceptance through dialogue with citizens, students and institutions. On October 3, 2013, in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa, 368 migrants lost their lives. 155 people survived including 41 minors. For this reason, we have chosen October 3 as a symbolic date, not only to commemorate the victims of that shipwreck but to remember the thousands of people who regularly die drowning in the Mediterranean or remain stranded at the eastern borders of Europe. On March 16, 2016, the Italian Senate gave final approval to establish the “Day of Remembrance and Reception,” to be celebrated on October 3 every year." Comitato 3 has adopted "Europe Starts in Lampedusa" as a slogan and uses this image (above) as an icon.

Oct .9, '21
When is bad weather good?

At the moment (Sat. Oct 9), there has been a temporary lull in the flood of refugees coming into Lampedusa because the weather has turned for the worse. Choppy seas and bad weather along the coast of Libya and Tunesia keep the refugee smugglers from putting out to sea. That lull gives the Immigration Reception Center time to deal with their overcrowded conditions. They has 628 migrants in a space built for 250, so now they can thin out the crowd a bit and move some of them to their real destination, Sicily. Yesterday they put 110 migrants (among whom were 30 unaccompanied children) onto a "refugee ferry" for the run to Porto Empedocle on the southern coast of Sicily. All of this is handled by provincial administration in Agrigento.

Oct .13, '21

On Oct. 11, sources in Sicily reported that a large rubber raft (shown) had capsized off the coast of
Libya near Zuwarah, a city 100 Km (60 miles) west of Tripoli and around 260 km/160 miles from the island of Lampedusa (where they were certainly headed). The first SOS went out from Alarm Phone, a volunteer organization that looks for people in the water. There were 105 persons on board, including 10 children and pregnant woman. There were no immediate reports of the number of casualties, but the fear is the toll will be high, potentially one of the worst such incidents in years. Reports indicate a Libyan coast guard vessel was very late arriving on the scene.

Oct.20, '21
The International Organization for Migration
Established in 1951, IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. With 174 member states, and further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM works to promote humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.
Via L. G. Faravelli, Casale Strozzi Superiore. 00195 Rome            Tel: (+39) 06 44 23 14 28              email:

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