Today I went to the Italian Film Festival and watched the documentary The Human Cargo it was a sad and very confronting piece of history shown through the eyes of people who actually experienced it.
The story was not known to me I’m ashamed to say, despite the fact that I was living in neighbouring Greece at the time, but in 1991 20,000 Albanian people desperate to flee Albania which was struggling with economic, social and political upheaval and start a new life for themselves in Italy seized the opportunity and boarded a Cuban vessel that had docked in Durres to unload sugar and after clamouring on board forced the Captain to take them to Italy where they hoped to start new lives.
I can’t comprehend how Reckless some of these people were. Many left behind family, children even, and without a moments hesitation or thought climbed on board. They had no luggage, no knowledge of where this would lead, or what they would have to endure only the hope of starting a new life in Italy spurring them on.
We heard one passenger explain how as he got to the boat he spotted his parents and sister already aboard the vessel and how he had started to cry. They were going to leave him behind, he was only 10years old at the time. How desperate must these people have been? I cannot even fathom this, to leave your children behind. Never.
Out of the 20,000 people that docked in Bari 16,500 were sent back, but not before they had to endure, thirst, hunger, loss of dignity, imprisonment, fear. It was truly heartbreaking. 1,500 people escaped into the population, many of them ending up fleeing to other countries.
I guess it just reinforced what I already know and that is how fortunate I am to live in such an amazing country, Australia really is the lucky country.