I rarely write about current events on this blog but I cannot fail to do so during this time of upheaval. After the quick shift of power in Tunisia and Egypt, the revolution in Libya is turning into a bloodbath and the winds of civil war are howling around the streets of Tripoli. With just 210 miles of deep blue sea separating us from our Libyan neighbours, Malta has become the main hub which other countries are using to rescue thousands of their workers stranded in Tripoli, Benghazi and other cities or from remote areas in the desert. To date, over 12,000 people have made it to our shores by air, ship or catamaran. Almost overnight, this little island has become a humanitarian base, acting as a stepping stone for all those that have fled Libya and now wish to continue on their journey homewards.
Perhaps I find it rather ironic that in times of peace Malta is so easily forgotten and dismissed as just an island which is the southern-most tip of Europe, of no importance whatsoever – and this is not far from the truth. But in times of war and crisis, the story is very different.
The Mediterranean is an ancient sea and for thousands of years the superpowers that conquered the until-then known world, rose and fell on its shores. Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Turks – their dominion has come and gone, their memory entrenched forever in our souls, their legacy still part of our daily lives. As the world focuses its eyes on North Africa, I believe that the final chapter in the history of this embattled sea still needs to be written and that the final curtain on this drama still needs to rise. Which makes me wonder what further part this island at the crossroads will have to play in the history of this oldest of seas ... but that is a story which only time can reveal.