Tragic drownings acknowledged by AU at last

THE African Union (AU) has belatedly reacted to the drowning of hundreds of would-be migrants from Eritrea, whose boat sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa on October 3.

After its mystifying initial silence, the AU Commission on Monday declared November 3 a continental day of mourning for one of the worst verified migrant sea tragedies in the Mediterranean.

The victims were at least 339 men, women and children from Eritrea, which is so closed that it is the only African country that can be compared with North Korea.

They drowned in sight of Lampedusa, Italy’s most southerly island. It was the heaviest loss of life in a single incident during the past decade, when thousands of Africans have died in the attempt to reach political or economic sanctuary in Europe.

The AU’s failure to offer even a word of condolence was noted by some media, including in an October 8 editorial by Business Day.

Four days later, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma spoke about the tragedy in Addis Ababa and on the same day African leaders took the decision to commemorate it, Monday’s statement said.

"The continental day of mourning will serve as well as a call for all Africans, including the youth, to reflect on appropriate actions to be taken with a view of finding a lasting solution to this persistent problem that leads to the loss of African young people without whom the continent cannot build a prosperous and peaceful future," it said.

The Insider can only note of the AU’s behavior: better late than never.

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