Camp of the Saints: Death on the High Seas

Diposting oleh alexandria joseph | 20.43

Lampedusa refugees #21

Refugees continue to land on the coast of Italy, mostly at the port on the tiny island of Lampedusa. On Sunday, however, a relatively small group of culture-enrichers landed in Sicily. Based on their South Asian ethnicity, their port of origin was presumably not on the North African coast:

Migrants: Clandestines Land in Calabria

(AGI) Bianco — More clandestine migrants land in Calabria near Locri. The alert this morning at 7.20 when some of them were spotted walking along the Statale Jonica 106 road, near the Sant’Anna hamlet in the Africo municipality. On the spot Police, Carabinieri, Tax Police and Coast Guard; 29 people, men between 20 and 30 yers of age, have been stopped. They are 25 Pakistani aliens and 4 Indians, who landed on the Jonian coast -known as the “Jasmine Riviera” — with a speed boat which pulled away immediately after.

Meanwhile, the North African crisis continues to generate new waves of migrants. The UN now estimates the Libyan contribution to be 750,000:

Libya Clashes Displace 750k, UN Says

(AGI) New York — According to UN Humanitarian Affairs undersecretary-general, Valerie Amos, 750k have been displaced by conflict. Out of that total, 5,000 are massed along Libya’s border with Egypt. Amos went on to assess that the collapse in the country’s infrastructure, as well as currency and fuel shortages are seriously testing the population’s resilience.

People are fleeing Libya in all directions, with the eastward wave prompting Egypt to close the border:

Libya: Tunisia Besieged; Egypt Shuts Borders

(ANSAmed) — Tunis, May 9 — The flood-tide of Libyans leaving their civil-war torn country appears an unstoppable one as it continues to emit thousands of desperate people along the borders with Tunisia and Egypt. This mass of humanity has already been estimated at over six hundred thousand people by European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. Whoever can do so is fleeing from Libya and Colonel Gaddafi is playing a hand in this cynical “game”, enabling makeshift vessels stuffed full beyond capacity to embark for the Italian island of Lampedusa — wreaking a kind of revenge on the Italian state for its open support of the rebel forces, who are now the only side the Italian government is talking to.

But while “little Tunisia”, which already has enough political and economic problems of its own to cope with, is opening its doors wide, Egypt has changed its tune and yesterday evening announced that it would only allow entry to Libyans who have a visa.

The Bishop of Tripoli describes the extent of the refugee crisis in Libya:

Tripoli (AsiaNews) — “The Libyans are afraid, every day thousands of people leave for Egypt and Tunisia, where refugee camps have been set up. Yesterday more than 30 thousand people fled to Tunisia alone,” said Mgr. Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli tells AsiaNews. According to the prelate, after the meeting of the Contact Group for Libya last May 5, the situation has not changed, “people are afraid and want to leave.” Since the beginning of Odyssey Dawn over 600 thousand Libyans, who have fled across the borders.

The Grauniad took a sympathetic look a refugee in a holding camp on Lampedusa. In a piece entitled, “An Escape From the Arab Spring: One Migrant’s Voyage to Europe”, our heart strings are tugged by a man who acknowledges that his former occupation was that of a smuggler. The “Arab Spring” killed his job, so now he is looking for new work, preferably in France.

The Guardian also broke another damning story about NATO’s apparent indifference to the plight of North Africans affected by the war in Libya. A boatload of refugees ran out of fuel in the Mediterranean, and they drifted until most of the passengers died of hunger and thirst. NATO planes and ships were allegedly aware of the boat’s distress, but never rescued the passengers until sixty were dead:
Libyan Migrants’ Boat Deaths to be Investigated by Council of Europe

Human rights body demands inquiry into failure of European military units to save 61 migrants on boat fleeing Libya

Europe’s paramount human rights body, the Council of Europe, has called for an inquiry into the deaths of 61 migrants in the Mediterranean, claiming an apparent failure of military units to rescue them marked a “dark day” for the continent. Mevlüt Çavusoglu, president of the council’s parliamentary assembly, demanded an “immediate and comprehensive inquiry” into the fate of the migrants’ boat which ran into trouble in late March en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Yesterday, the Guardian reported that the boat encountered a number of European military units including a helicopter and an aircraft carrier after losing fuel and drifting, but no rescue attempt was made and most of the 72 people on board eventually died of thirst and hunger. “If this grave accusation is true — that, despite the alarm being raised, and despite the fact that this boat, fleeing Libya, had been located by armed forces operating in the Mediterranean, no attempt was made to rescue the 72 passengers aboard, then it is a dark day for Europe as a whole,” Çavusoglu declared. “I call for an immediate and comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances of the deaths of the 61 people who perished, including babies, children and women who — one by one — died of starvation and thirst while Europe looked on,” he added.

To make matters worse, infants were among the dead:

Babies Among 61 Migrants Who Perished Adrift After SOS ‘Ignored’

London, Paris and Lampedusa (AKI) — Sixty-one African migrants including two babies died of hunger and thirst in late March when their boat drifted for 16 days in the Mediterranean after European and Nato military vessels apparently ignored their calls for help, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Sunday.

All but 11 of those aboard the boat which set sail in March from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, bound for Lampedusa, perished after they ran out of food, water and fuel, despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter, the Guardian said.

The daily cited witness testimony from survivors and other individuals who were in contact with the passengers during its doomed voyage, including Moses Zerai, an Eritrean priest in Rome who runs refugee rights organisation Habeshia.

Zerai said the coastguard assured an alarm had been raised after the migrants contacted him in Rome via satellite phone. A military helicopter with the word “army” appeared above the boat and its pilots lowered bottles of water and packs of biscuits to the passengers indicating they should hold their position until a rescue boat came to help.

No boat ever arrived and no country has yet admitted sending the helicopter that made contact with the migrant boat.

Around 29 or 30 March, when all the boat’s supplies had run out and it was adrift in rough seas, it found itself close to an aircraft carrier. The Guardian believes it is likely to have been the French ship Charles de Gaulle, which was operating in the Mediterranean on those dates.

French naval authorities initially denied the carrier was in the area at that time, but after being shown news reports indicating this was untrue, a spokesman declined to comment, the Guardian said.

Nato, which is coordinating the UN-mandated military operation in Libya, said it had not logged any distress calls from the boat and had no records of the incident.

The boat, which set sail from Tripoli on 25 March had Ethiopians, Nigerians, Eritreans, Ghanaians and Sudanese migrants on board. Two were small children, one of whom was just one year old, according to the Guardian.

NATO is looking into what happened:

Libya: NATO Launches Probe Into Claims 61 Migrants Died at Sea Despite SOS

Brussels, 10 May (AKI) — Nato is probing claims by a British newspaper that it ignored SOS messages from a boat adrift in the Mediterranean with scores of African migrants on board, 61 of whom died of hunger and thirst, including babies.

“We are looking into the allegations of the Guardian. I hope to have a reaction soon,” Nato spokeswoman Carmen Romero was cited as telling Reuters news agency.

“Nato vessels are fully aware of their responsibilities with regard to international maritime law on safety of lives at sea.”

It appears that the French are likely to have sighted the boat:

After conducting research, the Guardian said the aircraft carrier was most probably the French Charles de Gaulle, which was operating in the Mediterranean. The carrier was part of an international operation off Libya but not under Nato’s command.

French naval authorities initially denied the carrier was in the area at that time, but after being shown news reports indicating this was untrue, a spokesman declined to comment, the Guardian said.

Nato, which is coordinating the UN-mandated military operation to protect civilians in Libya, initially said it had not logged any distress calls from the boat and had no records of the incident.

The neglect of the migrant vessel may have been deliberate, or it may have been inadvertent. A lot is going on in the Mediterranean right now, and thousands of people are at sea in these rickety and ill-provisioned craft. It’s quite possible that this one fell through the cracks.

In any case, if this is what happens when a boatload of refugees is ignored or forgotten, can you imagine the media fury if one of them were deliberately turned back, or — God forbid — blown out of the water?

It’s not possible to reverse this flow. The migrants are coming to Europe, and no one is allowed to stop them.

Here’s an idea of what the Italians have to do nearly every day — rescue, feed, house, and relocate thousands of new culture-enrichers:

Around 1,000 Migrants Evacuated From Lampedusa After Arrival of 527 Shipwreck Survivors

Lampedusa, 9 May (AKI) — An Italian ferry is due to evict a total of 1,097 migrants from Lampedusa, after the coast guard Sunday rescued over 500 mainly sub-Saharan Africans from a Libyan people-smuggling boat that hit rocks near the tiny southern Italian island.

Most of the migrants are being evacuated to elsewhere in Italy by ferry, while around 100 Tunisians will be deported, according to Italian officials.

The migrants began boarding the ‘Pisana a Lampedusa’ ferry on Monday, an operation expected to be completed later in the day, officials on Lampedusa said.

All the migrants put onto the ferry will have been identified and photographed, the officials said.

The migrants will be transferred to detention centres on Sicily and other centres on the Italian mainland.

Pope Benedict XVI in his weekly mass in Rome on Sunday, told Italian worshippers to be more tolerant towards North African migrants and not to fear or reject them.

Lampedusa’s detention centre is designed to hold a maximum of 800 people but has on repeated occasions held twice this number or more.

In March, Italy drew international criticism when thousands of migrants were forced to camp for weeks on the island in squalid, cold and insanitary conditions, a situation that also created tensions with the island’s 5,000 inhabitants.

Lampedusa has borne the brunt of the influx of tens of thousands of migrants from North Africa amid the unrest that has rocked the Arab word since January, and the Italian government has signed a deal with Tunisia to deport up to 60 Tunisian migrants a day.

Amnesty International has criticised Italy’s treatment of the migrants and summary deportations from Lampedusa.

If all of that is not enough to satisfy Amnesty International, it’s hard to see what would.

The Italians can’t win.

Hat tips: JP, Insubria, and C. Cantoni.

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