UNESCO's Peace Prize Goes to a Mayor-Giusi Nicolini
You probably(शायद) haven’t heard of the winner of this year’s UNESCO Peace Prize. In the past, the award, officially called the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Prize, has been granted to internationally renowned (प्रसिद्ध) figures including Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, and Shimon Peres. This year, for the first time ever, the award goes to a mayor: 56-year-old Giusi Nicolini, mayor of a small Italian island that’s home to about 6,000 people. The island in question is Lampedusa, a small islet roughly equidistant(समानतापूर्ण) from Southern Sicily, Malta and Tunisia. In recent years, it’s found itself at the heart of Europe’s refugee crisis. As mayor, Nicolini has stood out from her colleagues by campaigning to ensure that the island deals as efficiently and humanely(मानवीय रूप से) as possible with the migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn Middle Eastern countries by sea. In campaigning across Europe to ensure better funding and faster visa processing for refugees and migrants, Nicolini has made Lampedusa a rare (though controversial) bright spot on a continent where hostility to even desperate migrants, partly manufactured by the media, has grown.
The crisis Nicolini and her fellow islanders face is not a small one. According to the International Organization for Migration, 649 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean in the first three months of 2017 alone, following years of high death tolls. Within the past month, 146 people drowned (डुबा हुआ) when a boat sank in the waters off Lampedusa, the sole survivor a 16-year-old Ghanaian boy.
Nicolini’s approach, while far from uncontroversial, has streamlined the processing of migrants who arrive on the island. Lampedusa’s reception center is now able to process and give shelter to up to 700 migrants at a time, moving most of them on to Sicily or the Italian mainland. This is extremely impressive given the island’s small size, though Lampedusa still struggles to deal with spikes in arrivals—such as the 1,000 people who landed on the island over Easter weekend. Nicolini has also used her status as a public figure to repeatedly promote a more humane understanding of the plight of the Mediterranean’s migrants,