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04 February 2016

The village of Sutera in Sicily. Photo: Time

How One Sicilian Village Learned to Love Migrants

The Sicilian village of Sutera, like many in rural Italy, was dying. Its population fell from 5,000 in 1970 to 1,500 and there was little hope of revival. Its schools and businesses were closing and farmers struggled to tend its fields of pistacchio and olives, writes Lorenzo Tondo in Time.

This year, its population has surged by 200 after the local mayor agreed to take in some of the thousands of migrants that have made the dangerous journey from Africa to Sicily.

“We have always been a hospitable town,” says the Mayor of Sutera, Giuseppe Grizzanti. “Our name comes from the ancient Greek word Soter which means ‘salvation’ because, thanks to our geographical location, Sutera was a perfect stronghold against invasions. Two thousand years later, our town has rediscovered its vocation for hospitality, giving shelter to these families fleeing war.”

Sutera has more to offer than hospitality. Hundreds of its homes were empty and and it even had work to offer. “Sutera was disappearing,” says Grizzanti. “Italians, bound for Germany or England, packed up and left their homes empty. The deaths of inhabitants greatly outnumbered births. Now, thanks to the refugees, we have a chance to revive the city.”

Read on


Migrants and refugees struggle ashore on a Greek beach. Photo: F. Malavolta, 2016.

Europe’s Refugee Story Has Hardly Begun

With a million new refugees expected in Europe this year, Greece faces a diplomatic onslaught and an existential crisis, writes Paul Mason of Channel Four News in an opinion piece in The Guardian.

The refugee story has hardly begun. There will be, on conservative estimates, another million arriving via Turkey this year – and maybe more. The distribution quotas proposed by Germany, and resisted by many states in eastern Europe, are already a fiction and will fade into insignificance as the next wave comes.

Germany itself will face critical choices: if you’re suddenly running a budget deficit to meet the needs of asylum seekers, how do you justify not spending on the infrastructure that’s supposed to serve German citizens, which has crumbled through underinvestment in the Angela Merkel era?

But these problems are sideshows compared with the big, existential issues that a second summer of uncontrolled migration into Greece would bring.

Read on

Migration in the News

  • German media including   SPIEGEL online, Reuters, FOCUS Online, N-TV, Die WELT, Augsburger Allgemeine, Frankfurter Rundschau, ZEIT online,  Deutsche Welle, ZDF heute, Süddeutsche, Tagesschau, Die WELT, Neues Deutschland and Südwest Presse all reported IOM data on migrant arrivals and deaths in the Mediterranean in January.

  • AFP reported that the EU has now agreed on how to finance a EUR 3 billion deal for Syrian refugees in Turkey, in exchange for Ankara's help stemming the flow of migrants, after resolving a dispute with Italy.

  • The Guardian ran an opinion piece by US Senator Ben Cardin listing measures that the US can take to help resolve Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis. It included US support for agencies working directly with refugees and migrants across Europe.

  • Reuters reported that hundreds of migrants set out on foot on a major highway in Greece heading for Macedonia, after being stranded for days by farmer and taxi driver protests on either side of the frontier.

  • DW reported that Iraqi and Iranian migrants are leaving Austria in record numbers to voluntarily return home, frustrated with poor living conditions and lack of work.

  • Newsweek reported that the European Commission has accused Greece of “seriously neglecting” its obligation to protect the EU’s external borders and urged the country to do more control migration.

  • Huffington Post reported that two men have returned home to Papua New Guinea after surviving nearly six weeks lost at sea in the Pacific. Three companions did not survive.

Trending on the Internet

  • Guardian reported that a new study reveals that few UK national press articles include migrant voices. Migrants were only referenced in 15% of newspaper articles on migration and 85% of articles did not have a migrant perspective.

  • Reuters published a blog by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch. He noted that the EU should recognize that the mismanaged, chaotic nature of the refugee influx is as much – or more – of a threat than the actual numbers of people arriving in Europe.

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