20 September 2011

Sidi Bilel: this is where they use to leave for Lampedusa

Yesterday we posted a video showing how the departures for Lampedusa from the commercial port of Tripoli occurred. Today we change port, but we remain on the route to Italy. And we accompany you through the eyes of a photographer from Trapani, Alessio Genovese, who was in Sidi Bilel two weeks ago. This is the name of the town about twenty kilometres west of Tripoli, near Janzur, where the port is located. At least one third of the 25,000 people who arrived in Italy from Libya between March and August this year departed from here. Even in Sidi Bilel the system in place was the same system well established in the ports of Tripoli and Zuwara: low prices for the trip when not entirely free, the logistics assigned to the troops of the regime.

The same people who in case of lack of passengers proceeded to organize raids in the black neighbourhoods of Tripoli and other cities controlled by the regime, and who violently forced entire families to take to sea. But now it's all over. The regime has fallen, Tripoli is free. And at least for a while there will be no embarkation for Lampedusa. The first proof is that since the day of Tripoli’s liberation on August 20 there have been no landings in Lampedusa from Libya, while boats continue to arrive from Tunisia.

The second proof comes from the photos of Alessio Genovese. Or rather the faces of about 700 people from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Gambia and Chad who have been blocked for a month in the port of Sidi Bilel. The tickets for the fishing boats for Lampedusa have been sold out for some time. For over two months. If it is true that they didn’t even come to Sidi Bilel to cross the sea, but only to stay together in a safe place while in town the fighting raged on.

translated by Camilla Gamba