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August 19 2011 | GENOA, ITALY

Genoa (Italy) - A mid-August in solidarity with young Africans from Lampedusa

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An afternoon of songs, dances and especially friendship. This is how the mid-August Holiday was spent by a group of some thisty young Africans, Nigerians and Ghanaians, landed in Lampedusa and now housed in a former hospital in a town of the Ligurian Apennines, in the province of Genoa.

They arrived in Italy in July after a hard crossing the Strait of Sicily, some even lasting for four days due to bad sea conditions.

The stories that many have told after the party talk of running away from tribal clashes, endless and risky travels: from Nigeria and Ghana to the north, with the pickup through the desert - but someone has also done long parts on foot - often at the mercy of unscrupulous exploiters, to get to Libya, where everyone was more than a year before leaving for Italy.

Time spent in the Libyan suburbs was marked by violence and abuse, often by precarious jobs, poorly paid and hard, in order to survive and earn the necessary for the last part of the journey. And then war, which broke through in recent times with its burden of uncertainty and widespread violence and that has made even more difficult the conditions of those who, in the dark outskirts of the Libyan cities, was already harassed and exploited.

Now they finally reached a cozy and comfortable place. The dream of all is to find a job and a new condition of life that allows also to help families in Africa. None of them have relatives in Europe nor a precise destination, city or a country that has planned to reach. The future, for the moment, is the fact of being welcomed in Italy and nourished by hope of being able to find help, papers and safe accommodation.

At the end of the party everyone thanked with warm words: "Thank you for these hours spent with us, for your friendship - said Richard in English - God bless your life in every moment of the day. We count on your country to solve our problems, to find accommodation, a job, to begin life again."

The group is composed mostly of Christians and some ten Muslims. The request more urgent was to get a Bible or the Koran in English. Everyone, then, have asked to meet with a minister, to celebrate a Mass or end a day of Ramadan with prayer, thanking God for having saved their life and praying for the realization of the dream of a better future.

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