On a gagné

by Francesco Bellina

On 28 August 2019, in the early hours of dawn, 70 miles from Misurata, the “Mediterranea” organization – thanks to its ship Mare Jonio – saved 98 castaways of which 22 children under 10 years, 6 unaccompanied minors and 8 pregnant women. Most of them have suffered torture and harassment as well as slavery in the Libyan ghettos. The migrants travelled for two nights and reported engine problems. When the rubber dinghy started to deflate, 6 people lost their lives. This case occurred in the middle of the crisis of the first Conte government. The former Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini, according to the “security decree bis”, refused to allow the rescue ship to enter Italian waters, leaving the Mare Jonio ship stranded for days 15 miles from Lampedusa, in very bad weather conditions. On 29 Aug. the Coast Guard transhipped 64 people, mostly pregnant women and children. The transhipment was carried out in the open sea, at night with high waves with a high risk of falling into the sea, which is why it has already been renamed “the transhipment of shame”. The Mare Jonio vessel spent 6 more days with 34 other migrants on board, in poor sanitary conditions, without running water. “Brothers and sisters, on a gagne”. After more than 6 days, these are the words spoken by Luca Casarini, head of mission of this rescue, finally breaking the silence and the long wait. The last 34 people left on board the Mare Jonio were finally able reach land. However, the authorities have never assigned a Place of Safety. Once in Lampedusa, the Mare Jonio ship was seized by authorities and the Mediterranea Organization given a fine of 300.000€.

Press and features

La storia di Simba. Il piccolo salvato in mare e ora accolto al Sermig di Torino
Mediterranea: Thinking through a Political Invention in Tumultuous Times