Interview for Der Spiegel

Last year photographer Alfredo D’Amato accompanied two lifeboat-operations of ‘Mare Nostrum’ off the coast of Italy. In this article he is talking about his time on the lifeboat and the fate of the refugees – and he is explaining why the salvage operations necessarily should be resumed.
How pictures and words resemble. At that time German Chancellor Merkel said she was “deeply upset” – today she says to be “shocked”. At that time the EU Commission President said he would never forget the the people died and that something had to happen – today he says: “The status quo is not longer an option”. At that time European Secretaries of the Interior were talking about an “horrible incident” – today of “sheer horror”.
Between “at that time” and “today” 19 months have passed. And several thousand of dead people in the Mediterranean Sea. “At that time” – that was the night of the 3rd October 2013. Aboard an old cutter which had started his journey at Misurata, Lybia, a fire broke out. Within sight of the small Italian island Lampedusa more then 500 people went overboard, most of them from Somalia and Eritrea. Not even one in three survived. The coffins in the hangar of Lampedusa became the symbol of Europe’s “shame”, as Pope Franziskus said.
At a meeting in Luxembourg the European Secretaries of the Interior were talking about a “wake-up call” and immediately founded a team. EU Commissioner of the Interior, Cecilia Malmström, deemed that Lampedusa shows “a picture of a EU we don’t want”. (…)