The Commitment of the Order of Malta’s Italian Relief Corps on Lampedusa
Efforts intensified after the tragedy of 3 October
The Order of Malta’s Relief Corps (Cisom) has sent a total of 97 volunteers – 30 doctors, 22 nurses, 6 rescuers, 28 logisticians and 11 psychologists – to the island of Lampedusa, scene of the appalling tragedy when a boat crammed with hundreds of migrants caught fire and sank a few kilometres from the Italian coast at dawn on 3 October.
The body count had not even started when the first team of experts from the Relief Corps reached the Mediterranean island, where the Order of Malta’s volunteers – consisting of a doctor, a nurse or rescuer and a logistician – work daily on board two Italian Coastguard patrol boats.
“The extent of the tragedy was evident from the very beginning,” recalled the Relief Corps’ national manager Mauro Casinghini, who immediately started organising aid as soon as he heard the news. The over 360 bodies recovered and some 20 missing were a terrible confirmation of Casinghini’s words.
A human disaster to which CISOM’s rescue teams responded by increasing the forces deployed, starting with the psychologists. These latter were called not only for the shipwreck survivors but also for the rescuers themselves who had the terrible task of recovering the hundreds of bodies, many trapped among the wreckage several metres underwater.
Since 2008 the Order of Malta’s Relief Corps has rescued and provided medical treatment to over 4,000 children, women and men passing through the Strait of Sicily to reach Lampedusa, outpost of Europe, on board makeshift and often overcrowded craft.