Why do Italy want to play politics over the coffins of our dead nationals by granting full posthumous citizenship while criminalizing and deporting the survivors? Is it a preemptive measure to deny the right to return of the bodies back to Eritrea for proper burial?
Italy will hold a state funeral for the victims of last week’s shipwreck tragedy off Lampedusa, Prime Minister Enrico Letta said during a visit to the island where more than 300 African migrants are feared to have died.
Italy is to hold a state funeral for the hundreds of migrants who died after their boat capsized close to the island of Lampedusa last Thursday.
“There will be a state funeral for the victims,” Letta said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta made the announcement during a visit to the island with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Mr Barroso pledged 30m euros ($40m) of EU funds to help refugees in Italy.
At least 274 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, died in the capsize. Divers are recovering bodies.
Of more than 500 people on board, only 155 have survived.
It is one of Italy’s worst disasters involving a boat carrying migrants who want to leave Africa and head to Europe.
Lampedusa is a key destination for such boats and many residents have long complained that the authorities in Italy and the European Union are not doing enough to deal with the thousands of migrants who come ashore each year.
‘Reason for hope’
Mr Barroso and Mr Letta visited the temporary mortuary holding the coffins of the victims and met survivors and those who had helped in the rescue.
The two men were heckled on their arrival in Lampedusa, with shouts of “disgrace” and “killers“.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Mr Barroso said he would never forget the sight of hundreds of coffins.
“It’s something, I think, one cannot forget: coffins of babies, coffins of a mother and a child that was born at that moment,” he said. “This is something that profoundly shocked me.”
Mr Barroso said he also met survivors who retained hope, and it was now the duty of the European Union “to give reason for that hope“.
He said 30m euros would help Italy to settle its refugees, and listed a range of measures the EU must undertake.
These include strengthening search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean; dealing with the people smugglers; and working more closely with the countries from where the migrants are coming.
Mr Barroso and Mr Letta had been met by a small group of activists and local residents who shouted “shame“, “disgrace” and “killers” as the men landed at the airport in Lampedusa.
“They should be ashamed of themselves. They should solve this humanitarian problem,” one protester was quoted by Agence France-Presse news agency as saying.
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Eritrea to Hold Sate Burial for Lampedusa Victims
The Eritrean Embassy in Italy today released an announcement reassuring the public that the Government of Eritrea will undertake a State funeral for the victims of the Lampadusa tragedy by covering all the transport and other necessary costs to Eritrea.
The letter states Eritrea is having talks with the relevant Italian authorities to make this happen at the earliest.
It also states that the Embassy, in collaboration with Eritrean communities in Italy, is committed to extend all the necessary assistance towards the dozens of Eritrean survivors.
However, Italy’s strange and possibly politically motivated announcement of granting posthumous citizenship for the dead victims will make Eritrea’s request unlikely.
For the hundred’s of the victims family and for the bereaved Eritrean people, a proper burial of these brothers and sisters at their homeland would comfort their grief.
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