March 11, 2023: A solidarity protest to remember the victims of a shipwreck in Cutro, Italy, that claimed more than 70 lives | Photo: PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/FRANCESCO ARENA
March 11, 2023: A solidarity protest to remember the victims of a shipwreck in Cutro, Italy, that claimed more than 70 lives | Photo: PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/FRANCESCO ARENA

Approximately 5,000 people marched in Steccato di Cutro in southern Italy on March 11 in a protest organized by the Asylum Network (Rete Asilo) titled "Stop the massacre immediately". Nearly 80 people lost their lives in a shipwreck off Cutro two weeks ago.

People arrived from all over southern and central Italy: women, men, children both Italian and foreigners, representatives from the institutions, union members and simple citizens.

They marched across the streets of Steccato di Cutro, where only 15 days prior, a shipwreck at about 100 meters from the shore took place, claiming the lives of some 79 people.

Over 5,000 people arrived with 30 buses and private transport from different Italian regions.

They were all united under the slogan "Stop the massacre immediately" which is also the title given to the march by the Asylum Network that promoted it.

Wooden cross built with wreckage from the boat

The march opened with a cross made with parts of the boat's wreckage which participants took turns to carry.

Among them Mimmo Lucano, former Mayor of Riace, the municipality that became famous across the world for its welcoming policies toward migrants.

"Sometimes I am ashamed of being a citizen of a Western country," he said.

Even journalists from the local and national media that have been following the story participated, with an image around their necks reproducing Amarkhel Torpekai's press badge, the female Afghan reporter who died in the shipwreck.

Tens of mayors and administrators were present, among them Raffaele Falbo, the Mayor of Torre Melissa, the town in Calabria where on January 2019 the population went to the beach at night to save the migrants whose boat had capsized.

"We want those in government to understand that saving human lives as sea is an obligation and the choices made so far do not respect this principle," he affirmed.

Death toll rises to 79 persons, 24 were under 12 years old

Among the protesters there were also some relatives of the shipwreck's victims: "The Italian government is no different from the Taliban," screamed an Afghan young man who lost five family members in the tragedy, while one is still missing.

"We fled because we have no other alternative to death. We ask for rescue at sea and for Italian policies to be based on this principle. Now we only wish to leave Italy with our dead," he added.

The protest climaxed at the beach where the massacre took place, where the march also ended.

As a wreath of white flowers was being placed on the shore, the news arrived that two more bodies were found -- following the news of the 5 or 6 year-old little girl whose body was found in the morning.

The two dead bodies belonged to a man and a little girl believed to be between the age of 7 and 10 years old.

But the total number of victims has continued to go up during the weekend, reaching 79 victims when another four bodies were found. The age for all of them was under 12 years old.

The number of victims in this age bracket is 24, over a total of 33 minors who died.

And it could not be the end, because according to estimates based on the number of people on board indicated by survivors -- approximately 180 -- there are still around twenty people missing. And it cannot be excluded that more children may be among them.


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