In view of the meetings of the bishops and mayors of the Mediterranean cities that will meet in Florence from February 23 to 27, we shared the need to make heard the voice of those who question the causes of migration and the reception too often denied : is the Mediterranean really a frontier of peace?
Letter to the Bishops and Mayors of Mediterranean Cities
The Mediterranean, a border of peace?
Dear Bishops, Mayors of the Mediterranean cities, Mayor Nardella: at the end of February your important meetings will take place in Florence, reproposing the idea of Giorgio La Pira’s Colloqui mediterranei. That was the opportunity to ask from Florence, “città sul monte”, real and tangible peace policies.
We therefore look forward with hope and great expectations to your meetings, which we would not be reduced to a mere parade of authorities. In the wake of the outcry of indignation delivered also by Pope Francis, we ask you to come out of these February meetings with a clear stance and a joint, clear and strong declaration of repudiation of those Italian and European policies and choices that we firmly reject, and that systematically violate the Italian Constitution and all the International Conventions about refugees.
What is your position about the outrageous Italy-Libya agreement, which is a criminal financing of the self-styled Libyan coastguard, with the sole aim of intercepting migrants in the sea and bringing them back, exposing them to rape, violence and death, in the lagers mentioned also by the Pope? We have spent about €100,000 per migrant over the last ten years with the only result to drown them. This is bloody money Just as the billions delivered to the dictator Erdogan, whose job it is to create an insurmountable barrier on Europe’s eastern borders. At the same time, in recent years, the non governative organisations working in the Mediterranean sea to save lives of shipwrecked migrants have been criminalised and opposed. Do you intend to support their work?
In an increasingly globalised world, goods and money travel freely from one border to another, while people are not allowed to do so. Migrants flee from wars, persecution and exploitation generated by our own West, which safeguards its enormous profits from arms trafficking and the plundering of precious resources such as oil, gold and Coltan. So, how can we make a distinction between ‘economic migrants’ and ‘political migrants’?
Don’t you think that the time has come for a new law on immigration, and for a law on ius soli, which recognises Italian citizenship for those who were born in Italy or have lived in for a certain number of years? Identity and social recognition are the greatest ambitions of our migrant brothers and sisters: the lack or possession of a document certifying their existence often marks the boundary between being and not being, between being able to earn a living or having to fall into the hands of gangmasters or exploiters.
In this respect, there is a lot that you Mayors could do:
– facilitate the obtaining of residence documents for the homeless and for migrants;
– concretely support the experiences of widespread hospitality, solidarity and inclusion such as those of Don Biancalani in Vicofaro, Domenico Lucano in Riace, Lorena Fornasir and Gian Andrea Franchi from the “Linea d’ombra” organization in Trieste, who went accused for having bandaged the injured feet of migrants arriving from the terrible Balkan Route. Article 10 of the Italian Constitution and the Gospel of Matthew (25, 34-36) speak very clearly about this matter;
– investing in housing and promoting training solutions which can make migrants active and productive protagonists in our society and not slaves of the third millennium;
– reducing rents and allocating the many empty flats; those shanty towns still standing in many places are unacceptable; they were a gift to the mafia and criminal organizations;
– strongly fighting undeclared work, job insecurity and ‘caporalato’, which mostly foreigners suffer;
– finally, using these Florence meetings as an opportunity to launch a ‘Network of Welcoming Cities’.
We, associations and grassroots movements, ask you for a clear statement on the points we have presented to you. We also express our total willingness to fully cooperate with any operational proposal you may submit to us, in order to build together that welcoming network which communities and whole Europe need so that the Mediterranean, from the silent graveyard of Europe that it is today, can truly become a Mediterranean of peace.
We will ask the people of Florence, during your meetings, to make a visible gesture that expresses our desire for peace and dialogue: to display the flags of peace and green lanterns at their windows.
Florence, February 9, 2022
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