There’s a new Pope in the Vatican, and he is still making a first impression. So far, we have seen TLC, hugs and a simpler lifestyle. He recently announced his first foreign foray, and he chose Lampedusa as the place to display his special papal compassion regarding the deaths of several Africans on their way to the island, then on to Europe presumably. The choice may not have been the wisest, given recent history.
Below, Africans created a tent city of trash on Lampedusa in 2011.
Lampedusa is a small island which is the southernmost point of Italy, located only 70 miles from Tunisia. As a result, many thousands of young Muslim men have tried to reach it as a gateway to the welfare offices of Europe. Apparently numerous able young fellows have not been interested in fighting for the glorious Arab Spring. (Photos of the Africans in Lampedusa show 20-something men almost entirely.)
Tens of thousands of demanding “refugees” have deposited themselves on the island over the last two years and have rioted when told they would be repatriated. The mayor of the town picked up a baseball bat to defend himself from the refugees rioting in the streets.
One measure of the spreading refugee chaos is the necessity of nearby Malta (104 miles away) to institute a public health program at its refugee center to improve screening (€700,000 EU-funded health project to prevent spread of infectious diseases).
But the Pope has decided to side with Africans, likely Muslims, who drowned attempting to enter Europe illegally. Will his support for “refugees” inspire more to come? Italy currently has an all-time-high 12 percent unemployment, and 40 percent jobless among the young. Italy recently paid hundreds of African refugees 500 Euros each to go to Germany. Last year, an Italian politician suggested immigrant-free public transportation to protect locals from hostile Muslims.
Will Italians see the Pope’s compassion as stirring up more trouble for them? Perhaps Francis should consider Adam Smith’s observation: “Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent.”
Pope chooses migrant-flooded Lampedusa in first trip out of Rome, Reuters, July 1, 2013
Pope Francis has chosen the southern Italian island of Lampedusa for his first trip outside Rome, to show solidarity with tens of thousands of refugees who each year brave a perilous journey there in flimsy boats, the Vatican said on Monday.
The small island, Italy’s southernmost point, is the conduit for mostly African immigrants fleeing conflict or economic hardship in order to enter the European Union.
The Vatican said Francis was “profoundly touched” by the flood of immigration, and will throw a wreath of flowers into the sea in memory of the many who have drowned in waters off the island during the visit on July 8.
The pontiff will also meet groups of immigrants who have made the crossing and will celebrate a mass in a sports center on the island.
A holding center on the island built to hold 380 has long been overwhelmed, and the island’s predicament has become a symbol in Europe and Italy for those who see immigration as out of control.
Lampedusa’s regular population of about 6,000 has often been outnumbered by migrants sleeping in improvised tent encampments dotted around the island, which in normal times lives from fishing and tourism.
Over 50,000 people arrived there in a surge caused by unrest in North Africa in 2011, and recent good weather has caused another increase in the hundreds arriving each week as it allows a less risky crossing.