Addressing a Geneva University seminar entitled "Lampedusa, at the Core of Migration Crisis", the former mayor of Lampedusa, Ms Giusi Nicolini, said to an audience of over 600 attendants Wedenesday evening, 11 October, that she "will never ever forget" the painful Lampedusa tragedy of 3 October 2013 that awakened Europe to act.
She said her office planted 366 trees for those victims in Lampedusa, almost all of them Eritreans, in order to keep them in the islanders' collective memories and she hoped the rest of humanity will not forget such painful happenings easily.
Ms Nicolini did not hide her fear of the "growing indifference" in Europe and elsewhere to the suffering of fellow human beigns. She however reminded the heavier burden of today by copmaring the the caseload of one million refugees after World War II to that that of today which is over 60 million.
Ex-Mayor Nicolini further stated that "Europe lost its memory" of what has happened to Jews and other minorities in Nazi Germany seven decades ago, and reminded that every refugee and migrant must be treated humanely and as an individual entity, not as a "collective mass".
She served as the Mayor for the 6,000 inhabitants of Lampedusa since 2012 but recently lost the 2017 re-relection because of her commitment to the human rights of refugees and migrants. However, Ms Nicolini said she is proud of remaining a friend and mayor in the hearts and minds of the estimated 300,000 refugees and migrants who were saved in the waters of Lampedusa during her term of office. The humanity and kindness Lampedusans showed to migrants has influenced others to do the same, she added.
It is estimated that during the last two decades, well over 20,000 persons perished in the Mediterranean Sea, including a big, but yet unknown, number of Eritreans.
Preceding the powerful presentation of ex-Mayor Nicolini, the dean of the University, Professor Yves Fluckinger, and Mr. F. Longchamp, President of the Republic and Caonton of Geneva, spoke on the current migrantion problems and the need to champion human rights amidst all the moves to the contrary.
The weeklong seminar organized by the University of Geneva will be addressed on Thursday, 12 October, by Mr Felipe Gonzales Morales, the newly designated Rapporteur for Human Rights of Migrants.