Against the tragedies in Africa/ Un forte appello contro il silenzio

Against the tragedies in Africa/ Un forte appello per pace e uguaglianza, stop al silenzio
Alessandro Zanotelli, foto da

A heartfelt message to journalists from the Colonbian missionary Alessandro Zanotelli

I am not asking you for heroic acts. I only ask you to spread some news every day in order to help the Italian people to understand the tragedies that so many African peoples are experiencing. I apologize for addressing you in this hot summer, but it is the growing suffering of the poorest and most marginalized that drives me to do so. For this reason, as a missionary and journalist, I use the pen to make their cry heard, a cry that finds less and less space in the Italian mass media, as in those of the rest of the world. Indeed, I find most of our media, both in the press and in the TV, so provincial, superficial and well integrated into the global market. Unfortunately, I know that the media are in the hands of powerful economic and financial groups, so each of you has very little chance of writing what is really happening in Africa. I appeal to you journalists and to your courage in order to break the silence of the media, which is particularly heavy with regard to the African continent.

I cannot accept the silence on the dramatic situation in South Sudan (the youngest state in Africa) entangled in a frightening civil war that has already caused at least 300,000 deaths and millions of fleeing people. It is unacceptable, the silence on Sudan, led by a dictatorial regime at war against the people in the mountains of Kordofan, the Nuba, the martyred people of Africa and against the ethnic groups of Darfur. It is unacceptable the silence on Somalia civil war, which for over thirty years has caused millions of internal and external refugees.

It is unacceptable, the silence on Eritrea, led by one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, with hundreds of thousands of young people fleeing to Europe. It is unacceptable the silence on Central Africa, which continues to be torn apart by a civil war that never seems to end. It is unacceptable the silence on the serious situation in the Sahel, from Chad to Mali, where the powerful jihadist groups could form a new Caliphate of black Africa. It is unacceptable to remain silent on the chaotic situation in Libya, where there is a clash of everyone against everyone, caused by our cursed war against Gaddafi. It is unacceptable to remain silent about what is happening in the heart of Africa, especially in Congo, where our most precious minerals are coming from.

It is unacceptable the silence on the 30 million people at risk of hunger in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, northern Kenya and around Lake Chad, the worst food crisis in the last 50 years according to the UN. It is unacceptable the silence on climate change in Africa, which risks to have three quarters of its territory uninhabitable at the end of the century. It is unacceptable the silence on the Italian sale of heavy and light weapons to these countries, fostering the increasingly ferocious wars from which millions of refugees are forced to flee. (Last year, Italy exported arms for €14 billion!)

If we neglect all this it is evident that the Italian people cannot understand why so many people are fleeing from their lands risking their lives to arrive here. This creates the paranoia of the “invasion,” cleverly triggered also by xenophobic parties. This paranoia forces the European governments to try to block migrants from the black continent with the Africa Compact, contracts made with African governments to block migrants.

But no one will stop the desperate people of history.

This is not an emergency issue, but a structural one, due to the economic-financial system. The UN already expects about 50 million climate refugees from Africa alone by 2050. And now our politicians are shouting: “Let us help them at home,” after centuries of plundering them, and let us continue to do so with an economic policy that benefits our banks and businesses, from ENI to Finmeccanica. In doing so, we find ourselves with a “Mare Nostrum” (our sea) that has become “Cimiterium Nostrum” (our cemetery) where tens of thousands of refugees have been shipwrecked and even Europe the homeland of rights is also being shipwrecked. We cannot remain silent in the face of all this. (Will our grandchildren not say what we say today about the Nazis?)

For all these reasons, I ask you to break the silence about Africa by forcing your media to talk about it. To achieve this, would it not be possible to send a letter signed by thousands of you to the Supervisory Commission of RAI and to the major national newspapers? What if the Italian National Press Federation (FNSI) make this gesture? Could this not be a journalistic Africa Compact, much more useful to the continent than the various treaties signed by governments to block migrants?

We cannot remain silent to another Shoah will be happening in front of our eyes. Let us all do our utmost to break this cursed silence on Africa.


“Non vi chiedo atti eroici, ma solo di tentare di far passare ogni giorno qualche notizia per aiutare il popolo italiano a capire i drammi che tanti popoli africani stanno vivendo.

È inaccettabile per me il silenzio sulla drammatica situazione nel Sud Sudan (il più giovane stato dell’Africa) ingarbugliato in una paurosa guerra civile che ha già causato almeno trecentomila morti e milioni di persone in fuga.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sulla Somalia in guerra civile da oltre trent’anni con milioni di rifugiati interni ed esterni.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sull’Eritrea, retta da uno dei regimi più oppressivi al mondo, con centinaia di migliaia di giovani in fuga verso l’Europa.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sulla Repubblica Centrafricana  che continua ad essere dilaniato da una guerra civile che non sembra finire mai.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sulla situazione caotica in Libia dov’è in atto uno scontro di tutti contro tutti…

È inaccettabile il silenzio su quanto avviene nel cuore dell’Africa , soprattutto in Congo, da dove arrivano i nostri minerali più preziosi.

È inaccettabile il silenzio su trenta milioni di persone a rischio fame in Etiopia, Somalia , Sud Sudan, nord del Kenya e attorno al Lago Ciad, la peggior crisi alimentare degli ultimi 50 anni secondo l’ONU.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sui cambiamenti climatici in Africa che rischia a fine secolo di avere tre quarti del suo territorio non abitabile.

È inaccettabile il silenzio sulla vendita italiana di armi pesanti e leggere a questi paesi che non fanno che incrementare guerre sempre più feroci da cui sono costretti a fuggire milioni di profughi.

Non conoscendo tutto questo è chiaro che il popolo italiano non può capire perché così tanta gente stia fuggendo dalle loro terre rischiando la propria vita per arrivare da noi.

Per questo vi prego di rompere questo silenzio-stampa sull’Africa, diamoci tutti da fare perché si rompa questo maledetto silenzio sull’Africa!”