Refugees, 2019

People often ask about the refugees passing through Sicily. Yes, indeed, tens of thousands have landed in Sicily, with numbers peaking in 2014, dropping for a while in 2015, as more traffic shifted to Greece, numbers again increasing (2016), then dropping again as EU efforts on several levels are slowing the demand (since 2017), even though death rates in the crossing have risen (up to 2.3%). Across the developed world, attitudes are hardening against migrants, even as it has been beautiful to see how individuals and private organizations have responded to the plight of these desperate people. The UNHCR as well is to be applauded. And supported.

What does this have to do with you, the visitor? Nothing, unless you want to help. Refugees are rescued from their leaky boats, documented and housed, quietly, out of the way, such as a visitor would hardly notice. Most of them move quickly through Italy, hoping for residence in northern Europe.

In the course of your tour with us, we will, of course, will talk about this situation from our perspective as Sicily residents. We who are local might recognize who on the street might or might not be a refugee. You could get closer to it if you want; you might be lucky enough to speak with a refugee met on the street. Many speak English; all have personal and often harrowing stories to tell.