When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Latest Illegal Immigrant To Land In Lampedusa Had Four Legs

A sheep that crossed the sea from Tunisia adds a light twist to the daily human drama of immigrants landing on the Italian island of Lampedusa. But the warmth doesn’t last.

Laura Anello

LAMPEDUSA - Among the cries of joy and relief from the Tunisian refugees on the dock of this tiny Italian island, a very different voice joined in: a sheep bleating -- almost as if to say: "I made it too!"

Authorities had rescued the immigrants, like so many before near Lampedusa, from a 10-meter long fishing boat. The Tunisian vessel was carrying 12 men, six women, a nine-year-old boy...and yes, one sheep. It was white, curly-haired, and an illegal immigrant like all the others. The sheep had been brought along to supply fresh milk for the boy.

The boat arrived in the harbor, with a show of 19 pairs of hands raised in the "V" sign for victory, and a triumphal pair of animal ears. "There is a sheep aboard," said one of the rescuers by radio to the harbor police station. "What..?" the operator asked. "A sheep," the policeman replied. It can happen on this island, the crossroads between two continents, the landing place for people who leave North Africa to run away from hunger, and to find a new place for their children to live.

Since the outbreak of revolutions in North Africa, some 40,000 immigrants have landed on Lampedusa. The stories on the island seem to be inspired from Aesop's fables or biblical tales. "This is an island for travellers of life," says Paolo La Rosa, a lawyer from Palermo. Young people in search of luck, women about to give birth, an 80-year-old blind man, and even a small dog have passed by this dock. This is the first sheep.

For a moment, the rescuers thought it was a joke. But the sheep was a treasure these immigrants could not afford to leave at home. "They brought the sheep along to feed the boy with its milk during the days spent at sea. In Africa, it is a valuable asset," said a rescuer.

Bad luck, and worse

This was just a small group compared with the many others who arrive every day from Libya. On Tuesday, around 290 Libyans landed on Lampedusa. On this day, the humans were pushed into a van to go for identification. One had been sent back from Lampedusa to Tunisia just last week. Some people try up to six, seven or eight times.

They would wind up being unlucky again this time. But the sheep was the most unlucky of the group. The men, the women and the boy were put on a list to be sent back home, in accordance with treaties made between Italy and Tunisia. The ovine -- as it was called in the bureaucratic documents -- was sent to its death. "The law states that illegally imported animals must be put down. We have no choice. We cannot send it back home or keep it." said Piero Bartolo, director of the Lampedusa emergency center.

Over recent months Dr. Bartolo has helped woman give birth, saved Tunisians who had swallowed razor blades to protest against the repatriation, and shut the eyes of the dead. And the other day, he found himself face-to-face with an illegally immigrant sheep.

A vet, who was by chance on the island, provided the solution. He took the sheep away. If sheep had feelings, maybe the animal thought for a moment that she would be safe at last. The vet gently took a blood sample to check if she had foot and mouth disease.

The analysis was not to make the sheep feel better, but to decide if pest control was necessary. The boat was sealed up as a precaution. The immigrants were sanitized, and kept in confinement. The sheep's end was death, as for many humans who left their homes and never reached Lampedusa.

photo - foxypar4

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest