The Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola, partecipated in the ceremony commemorating the mining tragedy of Marcinelle, Belgium. Today marks the 61st anniversary of the tragedy which occurred on 8 August 1956, when the Bois du Cazier mine caught fire, killing 262 miners from 12 different countries, 136 of which were Italian. Only 12 miners survived.
In 2001, August 8 was declared as the "National Day of the Sacrifice of Italian Workers in the World" and a Gold Medal for Civil Merit was awarded in memory of the Italian miners killed in 2005. The representative of the Italian government was accompanied by Luigi Maria Vignali, Director General of the Farnesina for Italians residing abroad. The function was also attended by Marie-Christine Marghem, the Belgian Federal Minister of Energy, Environmment and Sustainable Development; Willy Borsus, the Minister and President of the Walloon regional government; a delegation of the Association of families of the victims from Manoppello (Abruzzo Region); and the association “Marcinelle per non dimenticare”.
The event began at Bois du Cazier with bells tolling in memory of the victims, followed by official addresses by Belgian and Italian dignitaries. The group of participants then moved to the main entrance of the mining site where Ambassador Basile laid a wreath on behalf of the President of the Italian Republic. Other wreaths were laid by workers' associations and dignitaries attending.
The function continued at the Cemetery of Marcinelle, where Undersecretary of State Amendola laid a wreath at the memorial monument of the 'Sacrifice of Italian Miners'.
The event closed at Bois du Cazier, where Madame Ambassador Elena Basile read the message sent by the President of the Italian Republic, followed by an address by Undersecretary of State Amendola.
"The memory of this tragedy, which in our Country we commemorate as the 'Day of the Sacrifice of Italian Workers in the World', should guide us all and our children," said Undersecretary Amendola. "Our communities abroad are not only seen as the receivers of services, but also and above all as an essential component of Italy's foreign policy," Mr Amendola added, referring to our nationals residing in Belgium, who make up a community of approximately 280,000.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is strongly committed to increasingly and more effectively meeting your needs and to supporting your effort to settle and establish yourselves abroad, throughout your path towards growth and improving your living conditions, providing Italian communities abroad with a broader range of instruments," the undersecretary explained.
"Allow me to address you all, fellow Italians, a proud and heartfelt thanks for being here and to call on you to continue being proud of your history and of your achievements, because Italy is proud of you," said Mr Amendola in closing his address.