The Lives of Migrants After They Reach Shore

“What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer,” by Memphis Barker for the Independent:

We look at them. They look at us. Nobody waves. On the deck of the Tichy, a 150m cargo ship just pulling into port, stand dozens of migrants. Some of them lean on the railings and peer over the side. It is a hot July lunchtime in the Sicilian port of Trapani, and below, on the broiling tarmac, officials wait in uniforms of every colour of the administrative rainbow; nurses in maroon, coastguards and doctors in white, police in navy, and civil immigration services in grey. A policeman to my left whispers, “these ones are from Africa, they’re dark”. The gangplank is lowered and touches ground.

Tentatively, in groups of five, migrants edge their way down. The moment they come ashore everything happens fast. One nurse shakes the first man’s wrist from his sleeve and attaches a wristband. Another ties a surgical mask over his face. Next, someone shines a torch into his eyes and ears, before waving the man behind forward. So the process goes – through a human chain of first-aid workers going about their work – until the Tichy has cleared all of its 184 passengers and can return to whatever business it had before it ran into a boat of Senegalese young men adrift in the middle of the Mediterranean.

Nobody is hurt, it seems, or at least they show no more obvious signs of trauma than torn, dirty clothes and tired expressions. The cost of a ‘voyage of hope’ can be far higher. Eight other ships had already landed in Sicily this weekend, bringing with them a total of 5,000 migrants, and yet another barrage of headlines in the Italian press about an “invasion”. At least 30 passengers did not live to see land. The mayor of another port town, Pozzallo, was expected to take care of the bodies but said he had nowhere to store them: all the refrigerators in the morgue were full…

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