Monday, April 25, 2011

Libyan Refugees

Several people have written to ask if I've encountered any evidence here of the situation in Lybia. The other day in Siracusa, I came upon a fascinating scene. Early in the morning I was walking from the old section of the city into the modern section to do laundry, and as I passed the port, a police escort came by and momentarily stopped traffic. I watched from the sidewalk as they shepherded two giant tour buses through town. When the buses rolled by, I first noticed armed police onboard wearing surgical masks. Then I made eye-contact with some of the seated passengers, most of whom were smiling young Libyan men, staring with excitement at Siracusa, Sicily, a place that might become their new home. Most likely the refugees had already been on the overrun island of Lampedusa and were being brought to the mainland for processing. Or perhaps Siracusa was their first port-of-entry after fleeing Lybia.

The whole situation here is a complicated and difficult one with no easy answers, but I will say it was strangely heartening to see these young men grinning from the windows of tour buses, even with the masked guards watching over them. They might not find the glorious life they've dreamed about here in Europe, but then again they might.

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