UNHCR Urges Europe to Allow Immigrants to Dock
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent an appeal to the European governments to allow 507 people recently rescued from the Mediterranean and now stranded at sea to leave the vessels.Many are reportedly survivors of appalling abuses in Libya and are from refugee-producing countries. They are in need of humanitarian assistance and some have already expressed an intention to seek international protection.“This is a race against time,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean. “Storms are coming and conditions are only going to get worse.
UN Asks EU to Include Migrants Sea-Watch
The UN refugee organization UNHCR on Thursday (World Refugee Day) called on European countries to include the migrants currently trapped on the rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3.The 43 migrants, including three unaccompanied minors, urgently need a "safe haven", according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) .UNHCR urged European States to call forth their principles of humanity and compassion, and to allow the group to disembark. Ten refugees and migrants were…
Italian Police Escort Migrant Boat
An Italian charity ship was escorted into the port of Lampedusa by police on Tuesday after rescuing 49 Africans in the Mediterranean, with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini calling for the crew to be arrested.A judicial source said a magistrate had ordered that the boat, the Mare Jonio, be seized as an investigation is launched into allegations of aiding and abetting human trafficking.The vessel picked up the migrants, including 12 minors, on Monday after their rubber boat started to sink in the central Mediterranean…
Italy's Salvini in Migrant Boat Stand-Off
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Tuesday he would not let an Italian-flagged charity ship disembark 49 Africans rescued in the Mediterranean, setting up a fresh confrontation with humanitarian groups over migration.The Mare Jonio picked up the migrants, including 12 minors, on Monday after their rubber boat started to sink in the central Mediterranean, some 42 miles (68 km) off the coast of Libya.The vessel headed straight for the nearby Italian island of Lampedusa but was not granted permission to dock and is currently sailing close to land, awaiting further instructions.Salvini, who heads the anti-immigrant League party, has told non-governmental organisations that Italy's ports are closed to them…
European Shipowners Welcomes extension of EUNAVFOR MED Operation
The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) welcomes the Council’s decision to extent the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 March 2019.Operation Sophia is part of the EU's comprehensive approach to migration and aims to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean and prevent the further loss of life at sea.The Operation Sophia has also been tasked with strengthening the Libyan Coastguard and Navy by training its personnel and monitoring the long-term efficiency of the training.‘Operation Sophia’s contribution to maritime security in the Central Mediterranean is very positive. The shipping industry highly supports the EU’s efforts in this region.’ said ECSA’s Secretary General Martin Dorsman.
Spanish Coast Guard: 17 Migrants Perish in Western Med
At least 17 migrants died in the space of 24 hours while trying to cross the sea from North Africa to Spain, and rescuers picked up more than 100 others, the Spanish coast guard said on Monday.Two rafts were found in the Western Mediterranean between the Iberian peninsula and Morocco and Algeria with 80 people aboard, and 13 dead. They were taken to the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla, the coast guard said.The coast guard also found four bodies and rescued 22 men in the Atlantic off the southern Spanish city of Cadiz.Spain has now become the main destination for undocumented migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East trying to reach Europe.More than 47,000 people made the treacherous journey to Spain, often on flimsy dinghies and rafts, between Jan. 1 and Oct.
Libyan Coastguard: 100 migrants May Have Drowned Near Tripoli
Around 100 people are thought to have drowned from a migrant boat off Libya's western coast, a coastguard official said on Friday. The coastguard picked up 14 survivors from the boat just east of the capital, Tripoli, the official said. Separately, the coastguard said it had intercepted 200 migrants from two other migrant boats east of Tripoli. Libya is one of the main departure points for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, usually in flimsy inflatable boats provided by smugglers that often get punctured or break down. Some make it to international waters where they hope to be picked up by international vessels, but increasing numbers are intercepted by Libya's EU-backed coastguard and returned to Libya.
Italy Seizes Ship that Picked up Migrants in Mediterranean
Italian authorities seized a charity’s ship on suspicion it had helped illegal immigration by picking up migrants in the Mediterranean instead of letting Libya’s coastguard take them back to North Africa, the aid group said. The Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms picked up 218 migrants who were in unsafe rubber boats in international waters off Libya’s coast on Thursday, then took them to Sicily, the Italian coastguard said. A Sicilian court impounded the boat late on Sunday on suspicion that members of its crew had violated international agreements on handling migrants and helped illegal migration into Europe, the charity said. There was no immediate comment from the court in Catania.
Italy Rescues More Than 250 Migrants in Mediterranean
More than 250 migrants were rescued in the central Mediterranean during the night between Monday and Tuesday, Italy’s Coast Guard said. A statement said the migrants, in one large rubber dinghy and two small boats, were rescued in three missions by two ships, one from a non-governmental organization. Migrant arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds year on year since July after officials working for the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli put pressure on people smugglers in the Libyan city of Sabratha to stop boats leaving.
Libya Coastguard Rescues Nearly 300 Migrants at Sea
Libya's coastguard rescued an estimated 278 migrants including women and children on Monday off the shores of two different towns west of the capital Tripoli, a spokesman said. The coastal towns to the west of Tripoli - Zawiya, Sabratha, and Zuwarah - are common departure points for migrants trying to reach Europe, often sent out by smugglers in flimsy vessels. The coastguard near Zawiya refinery rescued 128 people about 23 km (14 miles) off the coast and another 150 were rescued off Sabratha, the spokesman of Libyan naval forces Ayoub Qaseed told Reuters. The migrants were mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, though there was also one from Bangladesh and two from Egypt.
Malta Hosts European Shortsea Network Meeting
European Shortsea Network (ESN) meeting was held in Malta with representatives from 11 European countries at the head office of Malta Freeport Terminals, says a report in Times of Malta. The presidency of the European Shortsea Network is currently held by Malta which also hosts the official registration of the European Shortsea Network as a legal entity. The European Shortsea Network is an association made up of 28 European countries with their main objective being that of promoting shortsea shipping in Europe.
Italian Submarine Romeo Romei Delivered
The submarine Romeo Romei was delivered at Fincantieri’s shipyard of Muggiano, La Spezia. It is the last of the four U212A Todaro class twin units ordered from Fincantieri by the Naval Armament Unit – NAVARM for the Italian Navy. Romeo Romei, as its twin unit Pietro Venuti delivered last July at the Muggiano shipyard, features highly innovative technological solutions. It is entirely built with amagnetic material, using the most modern silencing techniques to reduce its acoustic signature.
Libya Coastguard Clashes With Suspected Smugglers, Four Killed
Four suspected migrant smugglers were killed in an exchange of fire with the Libyan coastguard off western Libya on Thursday, spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. Qassem said the clash started when the coastguards tried to apprehend heavily armed gunmen whose boat was located near a migrant vessel close to the city of Zawiya, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Tripoli. "The coastguard boat detected the gunmen's boat by radar during a patrol," Qassem told Reuters. "The gunmen were asked to stop but they refused to follow the rules, which means most likely they were smugglers of illegal migrants. They opened fire at the patrol. Two of the suspected smugglers were arrested and one was missing, Qassem said.
Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 1,159; Deaths at Sea:27
Switzerland - International organization for migration (IOM) reports that 1,159 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017, through 12 January, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, compared with 22,590 through the first 12 days of January, 2016. A year ago, IOM reported 22,322 migrants and refugees had landed on Greece’s islands after short runs from Turkey – a number consistent with the surge of Turkey-to-Europe passages that began the previous summer. This year through 12 January, IOM Athens reports that only 430 migrants from Turkey have landed in Greece.
More than 1,300 Migrants Rescued at Sea in One Day
More than 1,300 migrants were rescued in 13 separate missions in the Mediterranean on Friday, bringing the total helped over the last three days to more than 2,600, the coast guard said. The migrants, who were aboard 13 vessels, were saved in the central Mediterranean by ships from the Italian coast guard, the Italian and British navies, merchant ships and vessels operated by non-government organisations, a statement said. Another 1,300 were rescued on Wednesday. The voyage from Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy is currently the main route to Europe for migrants. A record 181,000 made the journey last year, most on flimsy boats run by people-smugglers. More than 5,000 are believed to have died attempting the crossing in 2016.
EU Gives Med Mission Okay to Search for Libya-bound Arms
EU maritime mission gains more power to seize weapons; also says moves will help break migrant smuggling gangs. The European Union on Monday gave its naval force in the Mediterranean the authority to search suspicious vessels at sea in a bid to stop arms getting to Islamic State in Libya and to break up gangs smuggling migrants to Europe. EU foreign ministers acted to boost the effectiveness of the five-frigate "Sophia" mission after winning a U.N. mandate to reinforce an arms embargo on Libya, where Islamic State is strengthening its grip, and limit the near-impunity of the people smugglers. "We must act, both against those who exploit the migrants…
Boat Migrant Rescues Surge as Calm Seas Return to Mediterranean
Ships manned by humanitarian organisations, the Italian navy and the coast guard helped rescue more than 2,000 boat migrants on Thursday as calm seas returned to the Mediterranean prompting a surge in departures. The Topaz Responder, a ship run by the Malta-based humanitarian group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), said 23 different migrant boats had been spotted in the sea about 20 nautical miles from the Libyan port city of Sabratha. Rescue operations were ongoing, the Italian coast guard said. "The mass movement is probably the result of week-long, unfavourable weather conditions" that have come to an end, MOAS said on Twitter. The Topaz Responder picked up 382 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa from three different large rubber boats.
120 Bodies Found off Libya as Migrant Toll Climbs
The bodies of 120 migrants believed to have been trying to reach Italy by boat from Libya have been found off the Libyan coast over the past 10 days, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday. "We are getting this information from Libyan authorities that we are collaborating with," said IOM spokesman Joel Millman. The bodies had been discovered near Sabratha and had not come from previously known shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. Mainly African migrants are taking often unseaworthy boats from Libya to Italy, gateway to Europe. Nearly 8,000 were rescued at sea between Friday to Monday on that central Mediterranean route, Millman told a briefing.
Rescuers Save 301 Boat Migrants in Med
Rescuers pulled 301 boat migrants to safety and found five dead bodies in five operations in the central Mediterranean on Wednesday, the Italian Coast Guard said. An Irish navy ship recovered the five dead from a rubber boat along with 118 survivors. Humanitarian group Life Boat saved 130 people from another rubber boat. Overnight, Italian Coast Guard vessels rescued 18 people from a wooden boat near the southern island of Pantelleria, a further 11 near the uninhabited island of Lampione, and 24 more off the coast of Lampedusa Island on Wednesday morning. The central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy is the deadliest border in the world for migrants.
EU to Continue Libyan Coast Guard Training after Attack on Migrants
The European Union will go ahead with training for the Libyan coast guard this week, days after a coast guard vessel allegedly attacked a boat carrying migrants, causing four of them to drown. The German humanitarian group Sea-Watch recovered the four bodies after an attack on Friday that its members say was carried out by a vessel with the markings of the Libyan coast guard. "The aim was to start the training this week, and this week it will start," the spokesman for the EU's Operation Sophia, Antonello De Renzis Sonnino, told Reuters. The bodies of the four migrants reached Palermo, Sicily, on Monday aboard the Norwegian rescue vessel Siem Pilot, which carried 1,100 rescued migrants and 13 other bodies.
Mediterranean Three Times More Deadly Than 2015
The death toll on the Mediterranean has nearly matched that of all last year, with more than 3,740 migrants and refugees having drowned on their way to Europe, and perilous winter months still to come, aid agencies said on Tuesday. Smugglers are now sending thousands of people on flimsy inflatable rafts from Libya to Italy in mass embarkations, perhaps to lower their own risks of being caught, but also complicating the work of rescue teams, they said. At least 3,740 people have perished so far…
Record Number of Boat Migrants Reach Italy This Year
A record number of migrants have reached Italy by boat from North Africa in 2016, according to official data, as pressure on Italy's shelter and asylum systems grows. Italy has borne the brunt of new arrivals since the implementation in March of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey to curb the flow of migrants sailing for Greece. As of Nov. 28, 171,299 boat migrants had reached Italy's shores, the Interior Ministry said, compared to the previous record of 170,100 for all of 2014. There is no sign of a let-up in people crossing. Some 1,400 more migrants were rescued from rubber and wooden boats attempting to cross the central Mediterranean during Monday, Italy's coast guard said. In the past three years, Italy has recorded nearly half a million migrant arrivals.
Six Migrants Die in Mediterranean, 300 Rescued
Rescuers saved around 300 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in the Mediterranean on Wednesday but recovered six dead bodies during the operations, the Italian coastguard said. Coastguard and naval ships as well as two privately owned tugs rescued the people from four boats in the central Mediterranean, the coastguard said in a statement. It gave no details on the nationalities of those saved or those who died. Most of the more than 4,700 deaths in the Mediterranean counted by the International Organization for Migration so far this year were reported in crossings to Italy from Libya, where traffickers have taken advantage of lawlessness to set up profitable businesses. (Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Hugh Lawson)