Mattarella says Med deaths 'question our consciences'

President speaks with students at University of Cassino

11 March, 15:44

    CASSINO - Italian President Sergio Mattarella, speaking with students at the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio on Monday, said deaths in the Mediterranean, especially those of young people, "strongly question our consciences".
    Mattarella's speech took inspiration from an exceptionally well-received preceding speech by student government representative Elena Di Palma.
    Di Palma spoke of the problems of migration and tragedies in the Mediterranean, and Mattarella recalled the case of a young migrant who drowned during the crossing.
    "A dramatic episode that we cannot forget, that of a 14-year-old who drowned in the Mediterranean and whose report card with grades was found sewn inside," Mattarella said.
    "There are various cases of very young people who attribute the value of a passport to their report card, giving it an even higher value, nearly that of an accreditation for the world. All of this strongly questions our consciences," he said.
    The episode that Mattarella recalled, which touched people across Italy, was told in the book 'Shipwreck Victims Without Faces' by forensic anatomist Cristina Cattaneo.
    The young migrant was estimated to be no older than 14 years old, judging by his wrist bones, and died together with between 700 and 900 other migrants in a huge Mediterranean shipwreck on April 18, 2015.
    His report card was found sewn into the lining of his jacket, with the writing 'Bulletin scolaire' and his grades still faintly visible.
    The young migrant was from Mali and had passed through Libya.
    The ship he was traveling on overturned and migrants were found trapped in the hold, so tightly crowded together that they could barely breathe.
    In her book, Cattaneo recalls her experience with the young victim.
    "When the doctors began to undress him, they found something hard and square. I found in my hands a small packet of paper made up of various sheets. I tried to unfold them without ripping them and then I read: Bulletin scolaire and, in a column, the faded words mathématiques, sciences physiques. It was a report card," she wrote.

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