“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus (engraved on a plaque inside the Statute of Liberty)
Last weekend, a few people on a boat experienced a sudden problem while they were sailing in the Tyrrhenian Sea, west of mainland Italy. Their cruise ship “Costa Concordia” ran aground, listed and partially sank.
More than 4,000 people had to be evacuated to the close Italian island of Giglio. There and on the Italian mainland, they were welcomed by the rescue services and quickly housed by local communities and residents in schools, hotels and churches.
A warm welcome, an organised response, helpfulness, everything provided for: shelter, blankets, food, medical attention. The whole community, actually the whole country, stood behind the rescue.
How different the passengers of a different boat must have felt, even though they also arrived in Italy, namely on the island of Lampedusa:
Lesson learnt: If you want to come to Europe, try to look as white as possible. It makes for a much warmer welcome than if you are black.