UCLG joins Lampedusa to call for memory and dignity and commemorate lost migrant lives on October 3

In remembrance of the lives lost in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean, Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General and Med Aydi Wajdi, Vice Mayor of Sfax and Policy Councillor of the Policy Council on the Right to the City and Inclusive Territories, joined on 3rd October the relatives of the victims and students from all over Europe in Lampedusa to call for memory and dignity as grounding basis to transform the rules and make migration work for all. This year, the commemoration saw the inauguration of the 'Peace Walk' by Totò Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa, and Emilia Saiz. This pathway, leading to Capo Grecale lighthouse and other artistic and social sites, marks a symbolic turning point towards a joint municipalist effort to promote human-rights based approaches to human mobility as part of the Lampedusa Charter Process.

On October 3, 2013, around 368 migrants lost their lives after a boat carrying them to Europe sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. Ever since then, over 15,000 migrants are estimated to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean during their migration journeys. Every 3 October, survivors and their families, together with civil society organizations and national and European authorities, gather in  the island to honor their lost and to claim for a renewed framework that protects all.

This year, all the stakeholders advocating to make the 3rd October European Day of Memory and Welcome joined forces around the 'We Are in the Same Boat' campaign. Across 3 days of activities organized by the Comitato 3 Ottobre with numerous local partners in collaboration with the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa, students from different schools of Europe could approach the experience of those reaching Lampedusa in their journey towards a better future.

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"At the Lampedusa lighthouse, you could hear the echo of  'Imagine'. A symbolic moment for a better future where we all can live in peace." Salvatore Martello, Mayor of Lampedusa and Linosa

"We are not here to tell your story, we are here to live what you live, to get inspired by the power of this community. The path towards Peace requires restoring memory, dignity - our collective responsibility"  Emilia Saiz, UCLG Secretary General

"My city is so far away and so close to Lampedusa. Today we are starting to build a real bridge of peace between the two shores of the Mediterranean" Med Wajdi Aidi, Vice Mayor of Sfax and Policy Councillor at the Political Council on the Right to the City

Emilia Saiz and Tuto Martello Mayor of Lampedusa

The inauguration of the  Peace Walk by Mayor Martello  and UCLG Secretary General marked a landmark moment, not just in the remembrance of lost migrant lives but also towards imagining a better future with dignity for all and a peaceful co-existence, spearheaded by community-based approaches towards human mobility and diversity. These objectives also form the core of the UCLG Lampedusa Charter Process,  building on a call  by the Mayor Salvatore Martello to  UCLG members towards collectively addressing territorial challenges on migration and displacement. Already wholeheartedly supported by some UCLG statutory bodies, sections and partners, the Lampedusa Charter Process, which has at its core the intent to save migrant lives, embodies  our constituency's vision to foster dignified human mobility as an absolute Human Right for all.

The Lampedusa Charter mandaté was agreed at the UCLG World Council of Guangzhou in November 2020. After a year of collective reflection with the LRG network and partner organizations, through the Cities Are Listening and UCLG Executive Bureau platforms, the upcoming November 2021 UCLG World Council will set forth the inclusion of the Lampedusa Charter as part of the People’s pillar of UCLG Pact for the Future.

Following the Lampedusa remembrance event, on the consequent World Habitat Day, Lampedusa and UCLG reasserted the responsibility undertaken by the whole network with  the Charter Process to lead the transformation towards making urban migration work for all.  The Charter Process echoes the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' October 4 2021 commitment to sustainable urban action for the benefit of the planet and all people. As a way forward, the key takeaways from the upcoming regional consultations by UCLG members and governing bodies will feed into the final Charter, towards ensuring a community-led renewal of the social contract.

This set of activities was actively supported and promoted by the Snapshots from the Border Project, run by 35 partners, border Local Authorities and Civil Society organisations. Snapshots from the Border advocates for a critical understanding of global interdependencies between migration flows towards European borders and meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs), re-localizing the development discourse and promoting effective policy coherence at all levels.

Following the ongoing path of cooperation with Snapshots, UCLG is exploring pathways to strengthen cooperation and support to local governments and stakeholders in the development of its new vision about  global citizenship and human rights-based approaches to migration governance.