On 18 April 2015, the Mediterranean’s deadliest shipwreck in living memory occurred in the Sicilian Channel, 96 km off the Libyan coast and 193 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. There were only 28 survivors and between 700 and 1,100 people were presumed missing.
The boat, bought by Libyan traffickers, was filled with migrants, most of whom were locked up in the hold and machine room when it collided with a Portuguese freighter that was trying to come to its rescue. The fishing boat sank, due to the incompetence of its captain, taking nearly all its human cargo into the depths.
After the event, the Italian government decided to retrieve the wreck and identify the remains of the deceased to enable the authorities to inform their families. On 30 June 2016 it was recovered from the seabed by the Italian Navy and taken to the Naval base Augusta in Melilli, Sicily where the removal and identification of the bodies still imprisoned within it began. In October 2016, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi proposed bringing the shipwreck to Brussels, and warned that Europe must take responsibility for the “scandal of migration” so that similar tragedies never reoccur. In May 2018 a migrant initiative in Palermo started a petition proposing a procession with the shipwreck as a Trojan horse wandering across national borders through Europe, fighting for the human right to free mobility.
Barca Nostra, a collective monument and memorial to contemporary migration, is not only dedicated to the victims and the people involved in its recovery, but also represents the collective policies and politics that create these kinds of disasters.