Immigrant women and children are assisted by medical staff and law enforcement officers after disembarking from an Italian Coast Guard ship in the port of Pozzallo (Sicily), southern Italy, 15 July 2018. Credit: ANSA/ FRANCESCO RUTA
Immigrant women and children are assisted by medical staff and law enforcement officers after disembarking from an Italian Coast Guard ship in the port of Pozzallo (Sicily), southern Italy, 15 July 2018. Credit: ANSA/ FRANCESCO RUTA

This is the story of Dr. Sohani, a physician who has been working for nearly 10 years at the Pozzallo hotspot, treating migrants who arrive in Italy.

Khosrow Mansour Sohani has been working for nearly 10 years treating migrants at the hotspot in Pozzallo. "Every migrant disembarkation contains hundreds of stories, and it brings tales, anecdotes and cases of all types," Sohani said. "The migrants who arrive are immediately put at ease because I speak Arabic and language helps a lot in a foreign country," he said. 


The 58-year-old doctor is originally from Egypt but completed his medical training at the University of Catania, and he is also a psychotherapist. He said the disembarkation of 450 migrants "was a tiring day because we were kept hanging for too long, and the presence of many unaccompanied minors (there are currently 128 hosted at the centre) made managing reception more difficult". 

A touching solidarity 

At the time of the disembarkation, Sohani said he witnessed "a scene that moved me". "The small and spontaneous solidarity of two children from Pozzallo who came near when two of their peers came down off the Coast Guard patrol boat - they took off their name-brand pullovers and gave them to two African children, and one of them said 'put them on right away so you can cover yourselves, we have lots of them at home," Sohani recalled. 

He worked all night between July 15 and 16 with the arrivals of 447 migrants from the ships Monte Sperone and Protector, conducting exams and providing initial medical advice. He didn't leave Pozzallo until 9 a.m. on July 16, when he went to his clinic in Ragusa at the Multifunctional Centre in via Colajanni. It is a support and assistance centre for migrants created by the Interior Ministry together with the City of Ragusa. 

Fleeing from hell 

Sohani recalled that a young unaccompanied boy had a Manchester t-shirt on when he arrived at the hotspot. "I told him jokingly, they'll make you leave here unless you cheer for an Italian team," Sohani said. "His response blew me away. 'I'll do whatever you want me to,' he told me through tears, 'because I've escaped from hell," he said. 

"Then, last night, a young woman from Eritrea was very worried, she needed to be reassured, her eyes were full of fear," he said. "I went to her and told her in Arabic, 'I'm like your father, you can trust me'. I put my hand on her head, which in the Arabic language is a sign of closeness, and she broke out in tears and didn't leave my side," he said. 

"These stories fill my heart and this morning when I went to the clinic, despite the fact that I was tired and hadn't slept at all, I was full of joy," Sohani said. "I hadn't worked uselessly, and I had made many of my African friends happy," he said. 
 

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