The Mare Jonio ship from the Mediterranea project in the Palermo port. Credit: ANSA/IGOR PETYX
The Mare Jonio ship from the Mediterranea project in the Palermo port. Credit: ANSA/IGOR PETYX

The world of culture and theater are taking action for Mediterranea, a mission that is trying to help defend the rights of migrants with the Italian-flagged Mare Ionio ship. The vessel is sailing between Libya, Malta and Italy.

Writers like Michela Murgia, Sandro Veronesi, Nicolò Ammaniti and Helena Janeczek as well as film directors and actors like Valeria Golino, Gabriele Muccino, Paolo Virzì and Isabella Ragonese are taking part in an initiative to help Mediterranea, a mission trying to help protect migrant rights at sea. 

The mission's Mare Jonio ship sails the route between Libya, Malta and Italy. To support it, about a hundred intellectuals and performing artists are supporting 'La Via di Terra' ('The Land Route'), a traveling initiative that until October 30 will be stopping in nine cities for readings and performances to the music of Giovanni Guidi and Paolo Fresu. 

Initiative in Italian cities 

The initiative begins October 24 in Cagliari to then head to Bologna, Turin, Venice, Genoa, Palermo, Rome, Naples and Milan. ''Doors are being closed and walls of barbed wire are being raised to protect 'security'. 

"We could no longer just sit and watch," said the writer Michela Murgia. "We supported a series of funding initiatives, the first of which for nine dates in nine cities. This is the first coordinated event serving to support crowdfunding for the Ionio ship and which aims to serve as another idea of 'country' and 'reception'.'' 

The ship weighed anchor on October 4 with a loan underwritten by five guarantors. One of whom was Alessandro Metz, chief of the shipbuilding company that built it. 

''We are in the Mediterranean to monitor, report abuses and, when necessary, also save lives. After a few days the ship will be at sea again after stopping for technical reasons in Palermo,'' he said, and '''La Via di Terra' serves to move this act of dignity forward. In the name of the entire Mediterranean project, which is becoming a collective idea, I would like to thank those who will go on stage and those who will go into the theaters to watch and contribute to the crowdfunding.'' 

Monitoring mission 

The fundraising began on October 4 and in less than 20 days managed to rake in over 200,000 euros. The aim is 700,000 euros, needed to keep Mare Ionio operating. The mission is mostly a monitoring one and ''if necessary'', Metz said, ''we will report'' abuses. It is however also equipped to respond to dangerous situations through coordinating with the authorities. 

''What do I think about closed ports? There are no closed ports,'' he said. ''There is no official deed that states it. There is a photo with a hashtag and all the talk started there. On the issue of the Diciotti ship, it seems that the humanitarian approach is illegal, but those who rescue at sea are doing exactly what the law tells them to do. We are doing what the law says must be done at sea.''

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