LAMPEDUSA

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Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilota

Translated from the Italian by Chenxin Jiang

Paperback - B-format - 208pp - £9.99 - 03/05/2018 - 9780857057303

It is common to think of the refugee crisis as a recent phenomenon, but Dr Pietro Bartolo, who runs the clinic on the Italian island of Lampedusa, has been caring for its victims - both the living and the dead - for a quarter of a century.

Situated some 200 km off Italy's Southern coast, Lampedusa has hit the world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern migrants hoping to make a new life in Europe.

The shipwrecks began in 1992. Before the Arab Spring, they came from Africa, but now they come from across the Arab world as well. And the death toll is staggering. On Christmas Eve, 1996, 286 bodies were recovered; on the night of October 3, 2003, 366 out of 500 migrants died after a shipwreck nearby.

For the past twenty-five years, Doctor Bartolo has been rescuing, welcoming, helping, and providing medical assistance to those who survived. But, above all, he has been listening to them. Tales of pain and hope, stories of those who didn't make it, who died at sea, their bodies washed up on shore; stories of those who lost their loved ones, of babies that never had a chance to be born.

 

Elise Williams