29.Oct.07: The bodies of 12 migrants were pulled from the water at a beach near the city of Syracuse on Sicilys eastern coast. Seven survivors were found on shore and two others were considered missing. (Update: by 6 november 4 additional bodies had been found bringing the total dead count to 16 (source: reuters AlertNet)
This month i spend a week of vacation on that same eastern east cost of Sicily and one day, while going for a swim (just north or Marzamemi, which is 45 minutes by car south of Syracuse), we ran into this sign:
the sign reads: ‘At this place in Contrada Cittadella on the tragic night between October 27th and 28th 2007, a rubber dinghy in which 37 Palestinian and Egyptian refugees who were being transferred from a larger ship by unscrupulous people traffickers had set off from a harbor in Egypt , capsized in a furious sea in its attempt to reach Europe claiming 16 victims. We remember the Egyptians: KHALED ABD ELHAMID MOHAMED ABD ELAZIZ (04.05.1985), TAREK ABD EL GHANY MOHAMED ATTIA ( 01.02.1983), IHAB MOHAMED TAHA ABD EL AZIZ ELESAWY (* 08.11.1978), MOHAMED TOLBA ABD ELMOTAI AB ABD ELRAHEM (* 19.09.1988), ESAM MOHAMED ABDEL SADEK (* 05.12.1977), MOHAMED EID RAMDAN (* 08.08.1989), AHMED RAMADAN NEMR RAGAB (* 08.04.1985), EID MOHAMAD SHABAN (* 01.06.1970), IBRAHIM AHMAD SHABAN (* 06.07.1972), ALI AHMED SHABAN (* 10.11.1987) ELSAYED SAAD ALI (* 03.01.1970), REDA ALI ELSAYED (* 05.12.1979) and four unknown Palestinians. We mourn them as well as the thousands of other human lives list since 1992 as a result of the closure of the European continent to those people forced to flee their country’.
Unfortunately the sign does not provide any clues with regard to who actually put it up (and thus who it is who is mourning these deaths) which would be interesting to know.
Shipping disasters involving undocumented migrants trying to reach Europe are relatively commons on this particular stretch of the Sicilian coast. The most deadly of these took place on christmas eve 1996 off the coast of Portopalo di Capo Passero which is situated 12 kilometers to the south of this particular spot. Interestingly there is no memorial for the almost 300 migrants who lost their life when the fishing boat that was supposed to bring them to shore collided with the cargo ship that had brought them from Greece (unless you are willing to count the Stella Maris statue off one of the small beaches as a tribute to those unfortunate souls).