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The mayor of Lampedusa by Pope Francis: «We want to establish the Day of Reception»

There was the mayor of Lampedusa, Totò Martello, at the head of the delegation of "border mayors" adhering to the project "Snapshots from the Borders", who today met Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

In his speech addressed to Pope Francis, Mayor Martello touched on some of the issues related to migration flows and commitment in the border territories involved in the front line on the reception front. Emphasizing that Lampedusa "is also a place where man's ability to understand, and to understand himself, is measured. Besieged by a historical phenomenon infinitely greater than us, we discover that we are not afraid of the vastness of the sea that separates us from every land but rather of silence and indifference".

"The moment I began to speak in front of His Holiness, my voice trembled", Martello said at the end of the audience. "Pope Francis - the mayor added - reminded us of the importance of remaining human, and of remaining united. It is also the spirit that has brought us border mayors together because we are often faced with epochal problems that cannot be faced in solitude. When, even in an ocean, we meet two ideas that survive the waves, something extraordinary can arise".

The Snapshots from the Borders project, funded by the European Union, sees the Municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa as the lead institution, and brings together 35 partners (19 cities, islands and border territories from 13 European countries involved in the front line on the reception front, and 16 civil society associations).

During the audience at the Vatican was also illustrated to Pope Francis the campaign, born within the project Snapshots, to make October 3 (date that in 2013 saw the most serious sinking of migrants in the sea of Lampedusa) can become "European Day of Remembrance and Reception". "Moreover - Martello said to the Pope - we intend to organize in Lampedusa an international conference on Peace in the Mediterranean, to propose a new approach to the theme of migration flows and to ensure that the drama of migrants is no longer used, as too often unfortunately happens, to fuel fears and social divisions, which generate hatred and wickedness".

The delegation that met Pope Franceaco was led by the mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa Totò Martello, and composed by Andrej Kavšek - Crnomelj (Slovenia), Saša Arsenovič - Maribor (Slovenia), Josef Azzopardi - Marsa (Malta), Matteo Ricci - Pesaro (Italy), Martial Beyaert - Grande-Synthe (France), Andreas Babler - Traiskirchen (Austria), Johann Lappi (deputy mayor) - Straß in Steiermark (Austria). Together with them, also representatives of civil society associations, partners of the project.

At the end of the meeting the mayor Martello donated to Pope Francis a Cross made by a craftsman from Lampedusa with the wood of the migrants' boats, and a t-shirt with the words "I am a fisherman", a hashtag launched by Martello himself to remind that for seafarers there are no barriers, and those in trouble must be helped.