From file: The GNV Azzurra ship, carrying hundreds of migrants in quarantine, photographed through the Gate of Europe on Lampedusa | Photo: Alessandro di Meo / Archive / ANSA
From file: The GNV Azzurra ship, carrying hundreds of migrants in quarantine, photographed through the Gate of Europe on Lampedusa | Photo: Alessandro di Meo / Archive / ANSA

Vandals over the weekend damaged one of the symbols of the island of Lampedusa: the 'Gate of Europe', a monument to migrants who have lost their lives, or gone missing, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Parts of the decoration on the monument the 'Gate of Europe' on the Italian island of Lampedusa were broken off and left on the ground over the weekend. The monument is placed at the southernmost point of Europe, in memory of the many migrants who have lost their lives, or went missing in the Mediterranean.

Vandals returned repeatedly to the site, which has become a symbol of Lampedusa. The monument has already been restored recently, after a fundraising drive led by the Tuscan cooperative Unicoop Firenze brought in €37,000.

It seems, that instead of taking a photo or a selfie next to the work, by the artist Mimmo Paladino, as most tourists do, the vandals damaged it and broke off pieces, leaving them on the ground not far away.

Leaves a bitter taste in mouth, says 'migrant doctor' about incident

Pietro Bartolo, the European Member of Parliament (MEP) and a doctor from Lampedusa who has worked closely with migrants, expressed his regret that the monument appeared to continually attract such vandalism.

Between 1992 and 2019, Bartolo was head of the medical examinations for the migrants disembarking on Lampedusa. "We will try to fix what has been broken off as soon as possible, but these incidents leave a bitter taste in one's mouth," he said.

The Gate of Europe, inaugurated in 2008, had after ten years of being exposed to the wind and harsh sea conditions needed restoration with surface cleaning, replacement of some of its metal parts that had degraded, as well as the gluing back on of ceramic pieces, and the consolidation of the structure.

The latest restoration was unveiled on October 3, 2021 on the anniversary of the 2013 shipwreck off the island in which 366 people lost their lives.

 

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