Dr. Dawg

Lampedusa: humanity wins

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Canadian conservatives would say “lock and load,” and NATO would let them die of hunger and thirst, but the good people of Lampedusa, a small island at the southernmost reach of Sicily, went the distance yesterday and rescued some 500 migrants from drowning after their boat ran aground.

Lampedusa has been the way-station of choice for North African migrants and political refugees—these days it’s hard to make the distinction—fleeing the troubles in North Africa for a better life in Europe. The inhabitants of the small island have, in fact, been outnumbered by the new arrivals, and basic resources have been stressed to the breaking-point.

Other European countries, over Italian protests, have refused to take them in. The Italian government has begun to move them to other areas of Italy, but the Lampedusans remain under unimaginable pressure as the flow shows no signs of abating.

And yet volunteers joined the coast guard before dawn on Sunday to rescue every last man, woman and child—most of whom couldn’t swim—from the wreck. On local TV I saw children being rescued, and an officer reaching out to pat one on the head as he was carried to safety.

This is a story swamped by current events, one likely to go unnoticed by most. But in it we are reminded of all that ordinary people can be—“eroici” (heroes), that is to say profoundly human, and, perhaps fittingly, unnamed.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on May 9, 2011 8:53 AM.

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