Pietro Bartolo, known as the "doctor of migrants" for his work on the island of Lampedusa, has been elected to the European Parliament. He has vowed to go "to work, without fear."
Bartolo has treated over 300,000 migrants and refugees rescued at sea and taken to Lampedusa throughout a career spanning three decades.
Now he is preparing to use his experience in dealing with migration on the tiny Italian island, which is closer to Africa than to Sicily, as a member of the European Parliament.
The center-left Democratic Party (PD) had picked Bartolo as a candidate because of the public support he had gained through his work. He was on the ballot in two electoral districts - the islands (Sardinia, Sicily) and central Italy - and received over 250,000 votes.
A history linked to the desperation of migrants
One year ago the doctor declined an offer by the left-wing LeU party to run in national elections, deciding instead to continue his work as a doctor in Lampedusa and touring Italy to raise awareness of the plight of migrants.
Bartolo became the symbol of an Italy open to migrants thanks to the film-documentary "Fuocoammare" by Gianfranco Rosi, which won the Golden Bear award at the Berlin film festival and was nominated an Academy Award for best foreign documentary. His story is also at the center of a book - "Lacrime di sale" (Tears of salt).
Bartolo says he is ready to work fearlessly
Bartolo thanked supporters in a Facebook post, saying he was "grateful to all those who decided to work to support my candidature, allowing me to reach these results... I will work to bring your voice to Europe. Now to work, without fear."