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Presbyterian World Mission’s Office of the Middle East and Europe brought together representatives from global partners in Southern Europe virtually Tuesday to discuss the interconnections of justice, solidarity and mutual ministry.
“I’m a Black Italian, a Black European, a woman who was born in Rome with Somalian roots,” said writer Igiaba Scego. She spoke out about herself after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in Minnesota after being pinned to the ground, and whose last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
On October 3, 2013, the world watched in horror as photos emerged of a boat full of migrants from the horn of Africa, seeking refuge on the Italian island of Lampedusa, sank, killing more than 350 people.
The Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Presbyterian World Mission will offer a webinar on the migration crisis in Southern Europe from noon through 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
In recent months, much of Mediterranean Hope’s focus has been on migrants already in Italy. Living below the radar in shanty towns, they are an exploited workforce, propping up seasonal harvests of tomatoes, citrus fruits, and olive oil; undocumented, without contracts or access to basic services.
When I was a child in East Germany in the 1950s, oranges were hard to get. This was still the case when we had our own young children in the 1970s and 1980s. But in all those years one of the special things about Christmas was that we were able to buy oranges! We labeled them “Christmas quota oranges” and they came from Cuba. We rather loved them for their juicy sweetness even though they had a leathery surface and chewy flesh inside. And we learned later those oranges were originally a variety not meant for eating, but for juice production.
Refugees and migrants are at the heart of the mission and calling of Protestant churches in Italy. The geopolitical position of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea has made it one of the European countries most involved in the dynamics of migration.
She arrived in Italy on Feb. 4, 2016. Of the flight that brought her and her husband and their two small children from Beirut to Rome, she remembers only the emotions she felt on the plane, and the flowers and hugs they got when they landed.