The Agency continued its involvement in the ‘Europe Begins in Lampedusa’ project by hosting a meeting for stakeholders at the Agency’s office in Brussels.
The project is organised by non-profit organisation Comitato 3 Ottobre, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Education and the Lampedusa and Linosa municipality. The project aims to increase young people’s awareness of migration, cultural reception and human rights. It commemorates the 3 October 2013, when 368 migrants died in a shipwreck just off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Representatives from Comitato 3 Ottobre, the Italian Ministry of Education and the European Commission, the Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa and a delegation of students from Italy, Spain, France and Germany took part in the meeting. Agency staff welcomed the participants to the Agency office in Brussels on 17 February for a series of discussions.
Tareke Bhrane from Comitato 3 Ottobre explained how the project has grown in recent years, with students from twenty European countries now taking part in events and activities around migration and human rights. The student delegation described their experiences of participating in the Day of Remembrance and Reception commemoration, which took place in Lampedusa from 30 September to 4 October 2019. They felt it to be a life-changing experience which focused on the importance of co-operation in both politics and education in the process of inclusion. Representatives from the European Commission explained how the Commission works towards the inclusion of all learners, including those from a migrant background, through non‑formal education initiatives. Salvatore Martello, the Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa, underlined the need to find a common strategy to tackle the problem of migration and inclusion across Europe, not just at the borders.
In the afternoon, the participants moved to the European Parliament, where they were joined by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and representatives from a wide range of migration, human rights and anti-racism organisations. Among the speakers, Giuseppe De Cristofaro, the Italian State Secretary of the Ministry of Education, outlined how Italian schools are working to include learners from a migrant background and the challenges and solutions they have faced so far. MEP Pietro Bartolo, who is also a doctor in Lampedusa, described his own experiences in Lampedusa and what the European Parliament is doing to try to improve the migrant situation.
Throughout the day, the speakers and presentations reinforced the need for solidarity and co‑operation in issues connected to migration, racism and human rights. The participants all agreed on a fundamental need to work collaboratively across Europe to improve the situation of migrants entering the continent.