Every year our Bishop choses a worthy cause for chaplaincies to consider contributing to as a whole for Advent. We contribute to it through the blue bag at our collection during the service. Bishop Robert Innes has written the following appeal…
One year after the tragedy off Lampedusa
I am writing this letter on the anniversary of the Lampedusa migrant shipwreck.
On 3rd October 2013, a 20 metre fishing boat carrying migrants from Africa caught fire and sank just off the southernmost point of Italy, killing over 360 people. The tragedy was marked by a day of mourning in Italy. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs said: “let’s make sure what happened in Lampedusa will be a wakeup call to increase solidarity and mutual support and to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”
The plight of migrants crossing the sea to the Italian coast
Following the Lampedusa tragedy, the Italian government has launched the Operation “Mare Nostrum” with a wide scope to save and rescue persons in distress at sea. Despite this impressive operation, many other tragic incidents have happened and still happen in Greek, Italian, Spanish, Cypriot or Maltese waters. These tragedies remind us of the plight of all those fleeing war and conflict – people desperate to find sanctuary in the relative safety of Europe. At the present time, we are particularly conscious of those escaping cruelty and destruction in the Middle East, particularly refugees from Syria and Iraq.
In this light, I present to you my first Advent Appeal as Bishop with the intention that our European diocese can express solidarity with some of the most vulnerable people in Europe.
The Sant’Egidio Programme for asylum seekers arriving in Sicily
This project aims to give emergency help to those who land off the Sicilian coast, to raise awareness of their rights as asylum seekers and eventually to help their integration in Italian society. It focuses particularly on young people and children.
Sant’Egidio intervenes in the following major areas:
- Emergency help at harbours (Lampedusa, Crotone and Augusta): distributing food, first-aid kits, blankets, clothes and hygiene products.
- Community support and education: literacy and language courses, counselling, assisting with celebration of religious festivals, support to victims of trafficking.
- Funerals: support to identify remains; networking with Orthodox, Coptic, Muslim, Roman Catholic and Pentecostal clergy and communities for funerals and burial for people who died during sea voyages.
- The Sant’Egidio project working on this project is made up of:
- 8 Sant’Egidio volunteers with respons-ibility for co-ordinating the work
- 20 foreign (non-Italian) volunteers mostly from new member states
- 4-6 cultural mediators.
The estimated cost of running the project for 24 months is 30,000 euros. The money is used for: mediation services, transport costs for volunteers, aid materials, costs involved with identification of remains and tracing families. Overall, this is a low cost project where our Advent Appeal could make a huge difference!
Who is involved?
Sant’Egidio is a pan-European lay Roman Catholic community with particular concerns for the plight of the poor. I have the highest opinion of Sant’Egidio, and the link person with the Anglican Church, Monica Attias, is known personally to me. The project has been proposed by Archdeacon Jonathan Boardman and the Rome chaplaincy.
Please do consider this project for your charitable giving and/or bring it to the attention of your mission committee. This is a very practical way in which our diocese can come to the aid of some of the most vulnerable people in Europe at the southernmost tip of our continent. Money collected for the Advent Appeal should be sent, as usual, to the Diocesan Office. Í
With every blessing,