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TOPIC: eritrea

Migrant Lives

Europe Shamed Again, From The Shoah To Syrian Refugees


PARIS — There are times when it is necessary to compare things that are not comparable. There's a chance at least that it will wake up some anesthetized minds.

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The Anonymous Dead Migrants Of Calais

CALAIS — Three rows of men gather side-by-side, their heads bent down. A coffin lies on the sand, in front of them. They silently pray and place the coffin down a deep pit. Moussa Houmed was 17; he was Eritrean. He dreamed of setting foot on English soil, but ended up drowned in the retention basin of the Channel Tunnel.

A few meters from the Muslim section of the northern Calais cemetery, where some 50 men are assembled, three women are waiting to leave flowers. They come from Paris and Gex, in the Ain department, in Eastern France. "I didn't know him," one of the women admits. "My cousin who lives in the United States called and told me he was a distant cousin." Another explains that she found out about the tragedy from fellow Eritreans. "Being here, showing solidarity is the least we can do," she says.

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One Year Later, Survivor Of Lampedusa Disaster Starts Anew

The October 2013 shipwreck that killed 366 off the Italian coast moved the world to the plight of Africa's desperate migrants. A survivor from Eritrea tries to start a new life in Sweden.

ÄNGE — On Friday evening, after he has taken the bus home from his language school, Russom will buy 10 candles, three bottles of beer for his friends, and some orange juice, milk and honey for himself. With 14 fellow Eritreans who have wound up in the small Swedish town of Änge, he will mark this day around a simple kitchen table.

Friday is both a tragic and happy anniversary. The group will light the candles and read aloud the names of their friends who died off the coast of Lampedusa last Oct. 3. And then, after the prayers, in the middle of this forest of trees destined to make furniture, they'll look to drive away their nightmares, offering a drink to them all.

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Italy's Abandoned Grandchildren Of African Colonization

ROME — These are the kinds of lives that appear like ships at the mercy of a storm, where salvation will seem like a surprise — if it actually arrives. These are the stories of Eritreans with Italian roots trying, sometimes with the most desperate means, to make it to Italy.

First, the history. Italy took colonial authority over Eritrea in 1890, and, according to the Italian census of 1939, the capital city of Asmara had a population of 98,000, of whom 53,000 were Italians. Among the colonizing troops and administers, some Italian men took the local women as their servants, and no small number of children were born out of wedlock. Typically, when such unintended "accidents" occurred, the women were unceremoniously abandoned. Nobody has been able to quantify how many children were born under these circumstances.

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Niccolò Zancan

A Survivor's Story: From East Africa To Lampedusa To Sweden

GÄVLE — Under the dark of a freezing arctic night, Jimi arrived at his destination. They welcomed him with a plate of Swedish meatballs, before showing him to a soft, white bed in a room that sleeps eight.

“Welcome to Sweden,” says a man of African origins, shaking his hand.

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Andrea Malaguti

Lampedusa, Already Forgotten: Victims Buried In Obscurity After Vows Of State Funerals

LAMPEDUSA — Yesterday, they buried those remaining of the 385 victims from the Oct. 3 shipwreck off Lampedusa. There were no flowers. No gravestones. None of the ceremony that so many had promised.

That first day, as the death toll mounted, various political leaders, including Prime Minister Enrico Letta, had called for some kind of official state funeral to mark the worst such recorded tragedy of its kind, as would-be immigrants from Africa died trying to reach the shores of Italy...of Europe.

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Cristian Pellissier

After Lampedusa: African Migrants' Odyssey Continues, Into A Snowstorm

The tragedy earlier this month off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, which left more than 300 dead, is a cruel reminder of the treacherous journey across the sea to Italy's southern coastlines made by so many would-be immigrants. But Italy is typically just the entry point for immigrants, a springboard for other European destinations.

AOSTA — Arop is 20 years old. He left Eritrea to avoid the mandatory army service — and to chase his dream to become a professional soccer player. “I’m good,” he says, shivering in a hospital bed in Aosta, in northern Italy. “I want to show how good I am here, in Europe, in Germany."

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Grazia Longo

''I Paid For His Trip'' - Heartbreaking Search For A Missing Brother In Lampedusa

LAMPEDUSA — Two brothers, both with the same dream: escaping the violence and chaos of Eritrea. One has already spent nine years livingthat dream; the other still hasn’t been rescued from the sea that swallowed him last Thursday.

Desperation and grief are in the eyes and voice of Adel, who emigrated to Sweden nine years ago. After a long journey from Stockholm to Lampedusa, with three transit stops along the way, he discovered that he almost certainly will never be able to hug his brother Abrahm again.

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Laura Anello

Witness To Horror As Toll Mounts In Lampedusa Immigrant Tragedy

LAMPEDUSA — “Follow me,” said Jesus, “and I will make you fishers of men.” A disturbing parallel is evoked from this famous passage of the Gospel of Matthew, as nets tossed into the sea off the Italian island of Lampedusa fill up with the bodies of men... of women and children.

After the latest tragic end Thursday to the journey toward Europe of would-be immigrants, the Coast Guard was working into the night, unloading onto the docks body after body: dozens and dozens of victims, with their eyes wide open, arms rigid, bellies swollen.

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