First Remembrance Day for Lampedusa migrants marked in Italy

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A black flag reading 'Vergogna' (Shame) in Lampedusa's port a day after the tragedy. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
15:39 CEST+02:00
October 3rd 2016 marks three years since a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa killed 368 migrants, a tragedy seen by many as a key moment in Europe's migrant crisis.

It is also the first official Remembrance Day for the migrants - officially titled 'National Day of Remembrance for the victims of immigration' - which saw workshops, talks and film screenings across the country but particularly in Sicily, to raise awareness of those who make the journey across the Mediterranean and those who do not survive the crossing.

On Monday, around 1000 people marched to the Gate of Europe, a five metre-high monument built in Lampedusa in 2008 which is dedicated to migrants who come to Sicily in search of a better life.

Those marching, including survivors of the 2013 shipwreck, carried a banner reading 'Protect people, not borders'. After the march, a ceremony took place at sea aboard an Italian Coastguard boat.

Coffins holding the bodies of some of those who died in the shipwreck; some victims are still unidentified. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli - AFP.

Over the weekend, a variety of commemorative events took place with talks on subjects from hate speech to music and 'What it means to be a migrant/refugee and arrive in a foreign country'. There were also talks raising awareness about how search and rescue efforts work and on the topic of human trafficking.

Students from all over Europe participated in a workshop called 'Europe starts at Lampedusa', a project co-funded by the European Union, which involved talking to survivors and families of victims to learn about the journey to the southern port.

'No more'

On Sunday, Lampedusa's mayor Giusi Nicolini reminded participants that the shipwreck led EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker to say "no more deaths in the Mediterranean".

"But between then and now, another 11,000 have died. 3,500 have lost their lives in 2016 alone. It's a continuous stream," said Nicolini, adding that multiple deaths at sea are now considered almost normal.

Some of the victims of the October 3rd shipwreck have still not been identified, and while two smugglers have been charged with crimes relating to the shipwreck, an investigation is still ongoing to determine if the Coastguard failed to react to cries for help.

Those rescued said people on board had set fire to a blanket to attract the attention of coast guards after the boat began taking on water, and when the flames spread, panicked passengers rushed to one side of the vessel, flipping it over.

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Islanders rushed to help the drowning migrants, helping those who had fallen overboard onto their own boats and to shore.

READ MORE: The doctor who has helped every migrant arriving at Lampedusa

Photo: Italian Navy/AFP

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